I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, CA. My dad was born and raised in Santa Cruz, CA. And, my grandmother was born and raised in Santa Cruz, CA. We have some deep roots here, and each of us can recall endless summers at The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
This little gem of a theme park has a lot of historical significance for the city, and for my family. I have heard so many memorable recounts from my grandma about her days at the beach (before sunscreen), when the beauty pageant used to be held at the Boardwalk, and when she used to sell soft serve ice cream out of a checkered window for her first job.
My dad has equally fun stories about mastering the ring toss at the merry-go-round (his favorite ride) and how they used to be made of brass. He also has a great fondness for the Fun House he used to visit as a young tot. He was too small to ride the big rides, so his parents (see, Grandma still loved the Boardwalk) would drop him off there while they went on the thrillers. For a dime, my dad would spend hours in the Fun House riding down a huge wooden slide on a burlap sack, navigating an undulating bridge to the other side, and trying to maintain balance walking through a spinning tunnel. He fondly remembers the cacophony of noises – screams, bells, music, shrieks. To this day, he’s saved (now vintage) Boardwalk tickets, tokens, and a few Merry-Go-Round rings. It’s incredible to look back at all the proof of how much fun he had.
I love the Boardwalk for the huge heap of nostalgia is serves me up. I imagine experiencing each ride through my dad and Grandma’s eyes, and remember how I used to as a young child myself. Each overhang, column, and wall pattern is a deeply ornate, brightly painted piece of art. There are so many carved wooden details, and “revived” original charm.
Even though I’ve been going for years, each time I visit, the Boardwalk is always #worthit.