November 11, 2012

Which Ferris wheels are the fairest?

I recently scanned an Internet social-network message from a person who was planning a trip to ride on “a fairest wheel” located at her destination city.

It put me in mind of a column I wrote years back on how we sometimes mishear things. I mentioned The Lord’s Prayer and cited the way I recited it for years in my father’s church: “Our Father, which art in heaven, Harold be thy name.”

Perhaps your favorite childhood memories include your first ride on a Ferris wheel. Our poor family couldn’t afford such luxuries before I was 13. Perhaps because of our “fundamental” religious faith, it was considered too decadent. After we became Methodists (a far more “worldly” group), things changed. My first Ferris wheel memories were made in Massena when the carnival came to town. Later, I saved money to attend what we called the “Malone Fair.” At the time, those Ferris wheels seemed huge. In retrospect, they were tiny compared to the behemoths of today.

Kaye and I are blessed. Our wonderful family got together last Christmas and gifted us with a vacation in Myrtle Beach last month. We loved walking on the beach for miles every day. We enjoyed the boardwalk and a giant new ride called the Sky Wheel. At 187 feet with its enclosed, climate-controlled capsules, it was the biggest such ride I had ever seen. When it opened last year, it was the tallest east of the Mississippi and second in North America after the Texas Star, which is 221 feet. 

It put me in mind of what is called “the largest non-production tire scale model ever built,” called the Uniroyal Giant Tire. It was unveiled at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. As I hopped aboard, I snapped photos and thought it must be the biggest Ferris wheel ever. Wrong. It’s just 80 feet high and now resides in Allen Park, Mich.

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