Leeana Teta took a seat on the Paratrooper ride at Huck Finn’s Playland in Albany.
The ride has been popular at amusement parks and fairs for years. Seats are suspended below a giant wheel that rotates at an oblique angle. Once the ride starts, centripetal force builds and seats rock sideways, or swing out as the wheel picks up speeds.
Teta needed her courage — and her daughter, Ashlynne Teta — for the flight into the sky. “I used to ride it when I was little,” she said. “I just wanted to ride it with my daughter.”
The Playland is nearing the end of its first season at the Huck Finn’s complex. The landmark Hoffman’s Playland in Latham shut down after 62 years in business. Principals at Huck Finn’s bought the rides and moved them to a 5-acre lot next to their main business on Erie Street, at a cost of $1.8 million.
Of the 17 rides in place, most are designed for small children. Little kids love the horses on the merry-go-round, the miniature boats on the water, the Red Baron airplanes and pastel-colored helicopters that lift off into the air. The miniature train remains a big draw; so does the snack stand, for hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries.
Adults and older kids can relive their pasts on the Paratrooper and three other large park rides — the Scrambler, Tilt-a-Whirl and Big Wheel. The latter is the park’s Ferris wheel, which stands 40 feet high.
For the Paratrooper, Leeana and Ashlynne sat beneath a plum-colored metal canopy — some say it looks like an umbrella — and whizzed around in circles.
At 37, Leeana Teta easily handled the spins and was all smiles when the adventure with her daughter ended. Ashlynne, 11, easily cleared the height requirements (there are separate requirements for kids riding alone and riding with adults on the larger rides) and liked hanging out, and hanging on for dear life, with Mom.
“Even though I really don’t like this ride that much,” she said. “I rode it last year, but I think this year, it goes a little higher.”
While many at the park just like watching their children fly and drive, others belt in for the big rides, sometimes with kids, sometimes without kids.
The Big Wheel gets plenty of customers.
“Its pretty popular,” said Eric Brazee, the amusement park’s general manager. “On a busy day, it’s one of the most steady-moving rides.”
Part of the appeal is the speed. “Once it’s going, it goes pretty quick,” Brazee said. “A lot of people like to be way up on top; it’s the best view in the park.”
New Orleans residents Michael and Barbara Savoie, both 68, were at the Playland for its grand opening on June 18, when they were in town for Michael’s class reunion for Albany’s former Philip Schuyler High School.
“I’m a little kid still,” Barbara said.
Michael had another reason for the view from the top. “Hot chick for a wife,” he said. “Taking her out.”
Tradition keeps many people coming back. Denise Weidman, 50, of Ravena was touring the small kids’ rides last week with daughter Brittany Ramsey, 23, and granddaughter Rylee Ray, 2.
“We’re three generations,” Weidman said, adding she used to ride the planes and boats, and took Brittany to Hoffman’s for her summer adventures. Now Rylee is getting her chance.
Lynn Bennett of Wynantskill bought $30 worth of ride tickets and watched daughter Reese and her friend Alexa, both 7, go from ride to ride. She thought about riding with them, but decided against it.
“I would feel like I was taking rides away from them,” she said. “I would go on the Ferris wheel, I wouldn’t go on the Paratrooper. I would have to go to the chiropractor’s office right away.”
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