I'm not a Florida native - which is probably why I complain so much about living here. I was born in New York and lived there up until the end of elementary school. Most of my relatives are still in New York as well as a ton of childhood memories. My volatile teen years happened in Florida, haha.
More specifically, I grew up on Long Island, only a stone's throw away from the city. My memories are blurry at times, but I remember crawling under the table at family gatherings, staring at bare feet with a belly full of Italian cooking. There was my elementary school, with nuns and stiff uniforms, and the lawns that felt as soft as comforters. Sprinklers, ice cream trucks, dirty snow. And piles of leaves. Millions of leaves to jump in.
My father, brother, and I boarded a plane a few days ago to head first to Long Island. We met my relatives there and stayed with them for a few days, reminiscing about things that I didn't recall, haha. There was a lot of delicious food and lovely showers; for the first time since I moved, I finally had soft, frizz-free hair (No joke. It's the water pressure that's magic).
On Friday evening, my aunt passed me the local paper and asked if there was anything we'd like to do locally over the weekend. I searched through the event page, not expecting to see anything stand out. But as it happened, something special was going to happen.
Saturday was the centennial celebration of Nunley's famous carousel.
|Look at that horse! That's a nice horse.|
The carousel itself had stood in Golden City Park before finding a home at Nunley's, an amusement park that operated from 1939-1995 (so says, ye old wikipedia. I'm terrible with dates). Even though the park had a roller coaster, boats, and other interesting rides, its main attraction was the carousel. After the park closed, the carousel was moved to Museum Row where, thankfully, it still runs.
The carousel is made up of forty-one horses, two chariots, and one stationary lion. My brother used to always opt for the chariots; to him, it seemed rebellious not to ride on a horse. My parents used to take me to Nunley's often. I rode that carousel many times before moving away. My mom and dad, aunts and uncles, and even my grandparents rode this carousel when they were little. That's a lot of history right there. We had to go see it again
On top of that, the celebration included turn-of-the-century amusements like knocking down milk bottles, making clothespin dolls, and playing croquet. The whole event (and the park) was set up to mimic a Coney Island feel. There was even a Teddy Roosevelt impersonator to take photos with (and I just couldn't do it. I burst out laughing when I saw Teddy carrying a bottle of Diet Coke. That totally ruined it for me, haha). The staff for the event wore ribboned straw hats and t-shirts that said "Got Carousel?" on the front.
I've been writing a lot of stories lately that are inspired by 1900's ( in and around that time period as well) so I drifted through the festivities with a bounce in my step and a fluttery heart. It was almost like doing research, haha.
Riding the carousel was a wonderful experience - as well as waiting in line for it. No matter how long the line was, everyone had a smile on their faces. Nostalgic stories about the carousel were swapped by the adults and children got to ride it for the first time - the first of many times, hopefully.
|One of the many informative boards|
|One of the chariot my brother loves so much, haha.|
|Details, marking some of the places around the Long Island of the past|
|On the carousel at last! And there's the lion too!|
From Long Island, we took a cab over to New York City. It's hard to forget a city like this one and I found, as I walked briskly through the streets, that nothing much has changed. Times Square is still as clogged and neon-bright as ever. Garbage continues to be tossed on the streets. Restaurants are filled to the brim.
|I loved the movie Ghost... but a musical? I don't know...|
|Knock-off Hello Kitty. That really startled me, haha.|
|Dinner at Bubba Gump. If you serve me fish with mango salsa, jasmine rice, and other flavorful sauces, I will be your friend for life, haha.|
The last thing we did before returning to Florida was go on a Circle Line Cruise. I like boats, especially big ones you can wander on, but this one was overwhelming with the amount of antsy tourists on it. For two hours, I sat out on the deck in the surprisingly hot sun, drinking from my warm water bottle and trying to see the sights despite the flood of people striking embarrassing poses for their facebook pages (or something like that). And on that day, manners seemed to have been lost. But I did manage to take a few decent photos. And, ironically, I got major sunburn. My skin still itches as I'm writing this blog post. I'm used to being pale. It hurts to have burnt skin, haha.
I hate to admit it, but it's nice to be back in Florida. At least, until I step outside my door (ah, how the sun burns my sunburns!).