As a kid growing up in Vancouver, the annual Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) was greeted with great anticipation and excitement. It had something for everyone from kids to grandparents. Buying tickets and lining up to win the PNE Prize Home was the first requirement for my mum, her siblings, and my Nanny Keenan. As was crossing your fingers to win the show home! Candy apples, cotton candy, the Petting Zoo, stuffed animal wins from the games in the breezeway and looking through the trade show were also standard fair.
It did in fact take YEARS for me to finally get out of the Kiddieland and reach the line required for me to ride the rides I longed for. Although my mother was never a daredevil, the old wooden roller coaster was part of her youth so we would ride it again and again. All of her siblings had summer jobs and connections at the P.N.E. Often, we’d travel to the PNE in a large Keenan family pack and break off into groups and then reconnect for horse or dog shows, or meals. My Auntie Myrna had Coke Booth connections so my cousin Darlene and my sister worked at the Coke Booth, and it was a meeting spot that everyone could find.
I considered the Ferris wheel in the realm of “calm” rides so when I’d babysit my younger cousins, I take them down on the bus and we’d take our breaks on the ferris wheel. Their Mom, my Auntie Peggy would have a fit. Her youthful memory was of my Uncle Al and his brother Alfie rocking the little buggy until she felt like it was going to tip. I didn’t rock cart. I took my babysitting very seriously!
Part of the fun of the rides was the thrill of “danger.” I have clear memories of my sister being terrified on the Double Ferris wheel. A ride we had picked out to be very calm for her. Darlene, and I made faces instead of screaming because my sister sat between us, eyes squeezed shut, praying for our survival. My friend, Armando, made is very clear he would NOT be riding the Zipper with me again and could not believe it was my favourite ride. Instead, we ended up nauseous on the Spider ride. Another closed in upside-down contraption ride had to be put in reverse because my cousin Ryan conveyed enough legitimate terror. One of my most fun times at the P.N.E. was when my cousin, Darlene, took me to the P.N.E. for my birthday when we were in high school. We were ride compatible and ran the whole night from ride to ride, screaming at will.
My husband is also a fan of fast and wildly exciting rides. It may have been a prerequisite for marriage. Once the kids came along, we’d flip a coin for who would “win” and get to take Larkyn to the kiddieland rides while the other would take Tyler to the fun rides with the height requirement. It didn’t take Tyler long to figure it out.
“The winner is the really the one who gets to go on the good rides with me, huh, Mummy!”
Today we are heading out the PNE once again. Dancing to Chicago tunes, hot mini-donuts, Skeeball, Whack-a-Mole, duelling pianos, the Show Home visit and a new cell phone case are on the list of musts. Good fun. Can’t wait! More memories to create!
Dandelion Dreams is the section of my blog devoted to myself as a writer. The name is inspired by my favourite piece of art by David Klassen. It was previously known as Sunday’s Child. Too many of us were born on a Sunday.