About the Book:
It came to me in a dream.
Yes, I know full well that's one of the most hackneyed phrases a writer can start a book out with. But it's true. The idea for "The Cotton Candy Road Trip" came to me in my sleep. The clarity of said dream hit me in the solar plexus with a rush of nostalgia, regret and determination (I'll get to the determination part later). In the dream, I visited the lot where my childhood kiddie park formerly rested. Utility workers dug deep into the earth to lay down electrical (or were they unearthing the forgotten treasures left behind from children who lost them decades ago?) My attention drifted to the entrance of the now-defunct Fairyland Park, MY kiddie park, which magically was just… there. A door situated in the center of the gate beckoned to be pushed. In my sleeping mind's eye, the filming of this dream was in black and white, but peeking and teasing through the crack in the door frame was color. Rainbow and magic and possibility. And I knew that door must be pushed open. And those memories must be recalled so that, hopefully, they'll create the impetus for newer generations to maintain existing parks, nurture those memories. Because vintage parks have a magic not found in the megarollercoaster, thrill-and-vomit-inducing, "my pants are still wet and it's dinnertime" extreme ride-waterpark varieties.
The soul of an old balloon man lives in a vintage park.
Many a kiddie park has gone the way of dial phones (heck, landlines!), cassette tapes and drive-ins. But some still remain. The determination I felt after waking from my dream pushed me from wallowing in regret that I may have from a self-perceived sin of omission of not visiting or honoring these parks, that possibly let the magic of smaller, family-centered amusement parks just fade into the ether. And it's that fire that's lighting under my Bunsen burner and helping me to forge ahead with the "road trip" - visiting 40 amusement parks, all at least 40 years old as of 2009, and tracking down multi-generational families while I'm there to find out what makes the parks special, what elements of the parks I "just HAVE to do" and why, after years and years and births and deaths and every other imaginable life change, do these people keep coming back and keep these particular parks thriving.
Cotton candy, or candy floss as the Brits call it (leave it to the British to come up with such a delightful oxymoron), is pure whimsy and not necessarily good for you on a daily basis. But quite often, crystalline, Crayola-colored memories are created that ring around this fluffy confection. Much the same can be said for a visit to an amusement park. It's not essential for the continuation of the human species. But it sure makes that continuation a heckuva lot more fun.
Yours in the Divine Spirit of Amusement,