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Pacific Park 10 Years Later:

Laurie Rosenthal


May 26 is Pacific Park’s 10th birthday. It’s hard to believe Pacific Park is turning 10; in a way, it seems as though it’s always been there.

I watched Pacific Park being built. One day, while on my daily bike ride, I noticed a Ferris wheel; another day it was the roller coaster. What was going on, I wondered. Fast forward all these years later, and I have spent many a day on those rides, first with my three-year-old niece, now 12 1/2; later with my son, who is still young enough to really, really love the place, especially when visiting for a birthday party.

I love watching movies that show the pier’s rides, even when they were on the eastern end of the pier. Remember Sandra Bullock trying to escape the high-tech bad guy in The Net, made a year before the rides moved to their current location? And Joe, the Kong-sized gorilla in Mighty Joe Young, literally walk across town – even the freeways – to get to Santa Monica’s prized pier and subsequently climb up the Ferris wheel to save a young boy. I always feel a sense of pride, “Hey, that’s our pier.” I love the weather section of local news shows, when they show the glorious Ferris wheel in all its nighttime glory.

Not the healthiest place in town food-wise, since its inception in 1996 Pacific Park has served up more than 42,000 gallons of ice cream, brewed 651,000 cups of coffee and sold nearly 1/2 million pieces of cotton candy.

The world has changed a lot since the pier first opened in 1909. That year, America’s population was roughly 90,490,00; today it is 298,807,002 (and on a beautiful Sunday in the summer, it feels as if they are all on the pier). It has stood through wars, 18 presidents, earthquakes, Albert Einstein’s discoveries, and El Nino. Generations of visitors have stood at the end of the pier, marveling at the beauty of the Pacific. Let’s hope that during Pacific Park’s next 10 years (and another 42,00 gallons of ice cream), the kids who are yet to be born will have as much joy from the rides as all the little feet that have passed through its portals. Now, if they can just come up with a solution to the weekend traffic…

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