Sad South Colonie Carnival Offers No ‘Amusement’ for Resilient Have-Nots

By Scott Salad

Published July 12th, 2015

Socks lie next to a manhole cover(left), while children make mudpies(right).

COLONIE — Amid a pot-hole riddled parking lot crammed with unlicensed food trucks, dilapidated tents and rows upon rows of riot-warn pedestrian barriers, stood little Jimmy Gerger preparing to throw a dirty gym sock stuffed with peanut shells through an open manhole cover.

“You can do it, Jimmy!" yelled his stepmother, Ursula Gerger, as a disinterested teenage carny's wet cough rang into the early summer evening. “One more and you win the giant teddy bear.”

But as the 7-year-old shifted his weight to his back foot, cocked his right arm and launched the sock, a sad inevitability seemed to settle like dew on his third and final attempt.

The toss, of course, traveled wide-left of its mark. And the child—like so many before him — burst into tears.

The place: An abandoned K-Mart parking lot on Central Avenue. The event: The Annual South Colonie Summer Carnival.

At this year's SCSC, children can still be seen excitedly tugging their parents this way and that way. Still, clearly, something is missing. Where are the exhilarated screams of enjoyment? Where's the faint smell of vomit? Where's the toothless Tilt-A-Whirl operator?

More importantly, where are the rides?

For this year, due to the effects of a recent charity telethon that fell uncomfortably short of its goal, and several well-documented sanitation issues, the thrill rides that once dotted the 3-acre spread of cracked asphalt — that once gave even the most down-trodden South Colonie resident reason to smile — have been replaced with cheaper, less riskier activities.

“It's still pretty fun,” said Mo Deckner, a 13-year-old boy who was making mud pies on a patch of waterlogged dirt that was once home to the area’s seventh largest Ferris Wheel. “I like making mud pies. I get muddy!”

Sandy Dunkin, 14, agreed. “It's like my pa says, 'You're never too old to enjoy a good mud pie.'”

But just as mud pies are not intended to be eaten — a fact, oddly enough, that seems lost on many of South Colonie's youth — carnivals aren't suppose to be sad events where even the happiest of go-lucky's leave wondering whether there's more to life than just this.

“We're trying,” said head organizer, Barbara Tonydow. “Besides the mudpie makin', there's the cat and dog petting zoo; the shopping cart demolition derby; the jug band; and, of course, the duct tape exhibit. Oh yeah, and there's a sad clown wandering around here somewhere.”

Unfortunately, the clown — unlike the bouts of dysentery the carnival-goers are sure to experience after ingesting fried dough from one of the ramshackle food carts — could not be found.

The SCSC hobbles along until next Friday.

Until then, anyone with a car, $50 and some degree of decency is urged to travel to the fair grounds in Loudonville, where the North Colonie Summer Carnival— with its thrilling rides, fantastic food and friendly, non-threatening atmosphere — is currently entertaining people of all ages.


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