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My Memory Of The Mighty Thomas Carnival Involves A Caterpillar And A Garbage Can

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The Mighty Thomas Carnival has been coming to the DECC parking lot for as long as I can remember.  But, one year in particular stands out for a couple of reasons, one it was just us kids because one of us had just gotten our license (early 80’s) and two, it was the first time I rode a carnival ride called “The Caterpillar” (I think that’s what it was).

It was a cool gray day in Duluth with a bit of a mist falling.  We were psyched because one of us had just gotten our license and we were free from parents and could do what we wanted.  We ended up at the Mighty Thomas Carnival Show in the then Duluth Arena Parking lot.  When I was younger I had tolerated and even loved to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl so who knew that I was going to have issues that night.  We wandered around playing a few games and eating mini doughnuts and red (that comes into play later in the evening) slushes.

Someone in the group suggested we ride the Catepillar as we stood and watched it go round and round.  Again, I’m not entirely sure that’s what the ride was called but I think so.  The seats are like that of a roller coaster but it just goes around in a circle, which I can handle or could handle at the time, I can’t anymore.  But, halfway through the ride it slows to a complete stop and then begins going the opposite direction so you as a rider are now going backwards, then without warning a canopy covers you so it’s completely dark.  OMG, that was horrible.  All I remember is yelling every time I circled by where I thought the operator was to S T O P  T H E  R I D E!!!!!!  But, he didn’t.

My mini doughnuts were looking for a fast exit, Aldo Nova’s song, “Fantasy” was blaring in my ears and I was praying to baby Jesus to make this h*** end.  When it finally did, after what seemed like forever for the operator to let me off the ride, I headed to the nearest garbage can and made friends.  Needless to say, no one wanted to sit next to me in the car on the ride home with the red slushy stains on the front of my jacket.

I still  go to the Mighty Thomas Carnival Show, I still play the games and I still eat the food that always seems to taste better at a carnival, but I steer clear of the ride I will never forget!

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