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Carousel Columbia Injury!

Share your memories of working at Marriott's GREAT AMERICA in Gurnee

Carousel Columbia Injury!

Postby billymac72 » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:11 pm

Yes, I know it may be hard to believe, but as a child, I managed to maim myself on the tamest ride in the park, the Carousel Columbia.

I see that many former employees have have posted up some terrific memories. I would be amazed and thrilled if one of you actually remembered this!

I'm pretty sure it was the very first year of the Sky Trek Tower (1979) as I remember being with my friend, Timmy, that day and being very excited about riding it. I would have been 7 years old then, but have an extremely vivid memory. I even remember that I had my Star Wars watch on that day. My family went every summer together and always let us each take a friend. When we got to the park, they let us all go our separate ways and meet up at designated times for lunch and dinner (a 7 year old boy on his own? Sure, why not! Probably not something parents ordinarily do today, unfortunately). It was a day I looked forward to with intense excitement. I remember not even being able to fall asleep the night before going.

Sometime in the evening hours, Timmy and I decided to ride the carousel. When they let us through, we both saw the very same, ornate horse and made a run for it. At some point in the process, Timmy pushed me into the horse and I hit the side of my head against it. I must've hit something sharp because when I put my hand to my ear and looked at it, it was completely covered in blood, a sight which completely freaked me out. I remember screaming my head off.

Some employees apparently took me over to a first aid area (how I got over there is the one part I don't recall). They bandaged up my head. Not sure how they did it, but they managed to track down my parents. As I waited, I asked the first aid people if they could find a character to come and visit me! (I find that part so funny) God bless 'em because they got both Pepe LePew and Daffy Duck to stop by. I remember being so comforted by Daffy, who put his hands up to his beak as if to say "Oh no!" I remember telling Daffy that I was fine and not to worry. Not sure what was going through the head of the person inside Daffy's costume, but I remember that my shirt was covered in a lot of blood. Poor guy! I'm pretty sure he held my hand as they bandaged my head too. I was actually kind of excited that I was "behind the scenes!"

My parents finally arrived. My dad had evidently run through the park when informed of my injury, and was making a big deal about a scraped up shin he suffered in the process.....jumping a fence if I recall. I think the park was getting close to shutting down for the evening at this point. My father picked me up, put me over his shoulder and we all started heading towards the exits. I still had a bandaged head. I remember feeling like a war hero or something. I could see my poor brother (3 years older) walking behind us, and he was crying. I smiled and waved to him and he began to cheer up. I probably should not have been so happy, as it turns out. After leaving the park, our next stop was Glenbrook Hospital, where I received several stitches to my ear! Ouch. The doctor had commented that if it was another centimeter or something in the other direction, I would have lost hearing!

I got to thinking about this story because I visited Great America last Friday with my own family for Fright Fest. I haven't been there in about 12 years or so. The memories came flooding back, of course! Yes, much has changed (gosh, how I miss the Tidal Wave!), but it's still a wonderful park. I even spotted the 1978 model in one of the shops by Main Street. We stopped to look at it and I kind of held court there for about 10 minutes, reminiscing. Several kids were asking me questions about stuff like the cable cars, and I was more than happy to tell them more than they probably wanted to know.

One thing is for certain: I would like to make the park a yearly ritual once again (although I don't think my wife can handle the roller coasters anymore, darn it!).

PS - I just checked the page for Sky Trek and it says the Gurnee one opened in '77. Is that possible? That means I would've been 5 when this happened. The Star Wars watch fits that part, certainly.
billymac72
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Re: Carousel Columbia Injury!

Postby MGA1 » Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:46 am

While I don't remember hearing about your injury on the carousel, I can confirm that Sky Trek Tower definitely opened in 1977 in Gurnee. If you also remember seeing Tidal Wave on that particular visit, it would have been a year later since Tidal Wave opened in 1978 in Gurnee.
"...and enjoy the rest of your day here at Marriott's GRRRREAT America"
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Re: Carousel Columbia Injury!

Postby billymac72 » Fri Feb 04, 2011 2:31 pm

Thanks for your reply. Something tells me I might be off a year or so. I've had it stuck in my mind that the Sky Tower was the new ride that year. Based upon my pictures I've looked at recently, and the clothes I'm wearing in them, this must have happened in 1979, however. Memory is a strange thing!
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