My family has been going to Surfside/Garden City since my brother was a baby, so the area is packed full of nostalgia for me. When Katie and I were first old enough to go to the “Pavilion” by ourselves, it was a Big Deal. The Pavilion is at the pier, and it includes an arcade, a small shop where you can buy bait and fishing gear, a Wings where you can purchase yourself a super cool shark tooth necklace (5th grade: check) and/or air brushed t-shirt (3rd grade: check), and a little diner that still sells coffee for less than a dollar and the best darn corn dog you’ve ever had. The last time I had made the 0.25 walk down to the Pavilion was probably my senior year of high school, when I had brought 6 girl friends down on our Spring Break. We were goody-goodies and not the rule breaking type, and certainly didn’t attempt to sneak out and bar hop in Myrtle… so the Pavilion was the place to be to “get away from it all.” (“It all” of course being: the grown ups. Ooooh, stolen moments of teenage independence.)
My little cousins are now 5 years old and 7 years old, the age where the arcade at the Pavilion provides the perfect distraction for that lull when beach time is over and dinner’s not ready. One night, we filled our pockets with tokens and joined them for some fun.
Whenever we came to the Pavilion, Katie and I would be on a mission to win as many tickets as we could to turn in for cool prizes: whoopie cushions, fake tattoos, shark tooth necklaces, etc. (I’m telling you, those necklaces were a HOT commodity.) I’m not particularly good at games of skill & chance, so it was always a little stressful trying to accumulate those darn tickets.
Us grown up kids went at Skeeball and Racecar Driver and Wheel of Fortune like we ain’t ever seen them before in our lives. It was so much more fun playing without a “mission.” And to boot, I scored my best score on Skeeball AND won 100 tickets on one of those slam the button on the right colored lights games.
And I came in last on the racecar driver!!!! Ok, check, I still suck at games of skill.
But the absolute best prize of all? When the three of us pooled our tickets together, split them in half and handed one thick pile to a 5 year old and the other to the 7 year old. Amelia, my 7 year old cousin, looked at me with wide, amazed eyes and just whispered an awed "thank you.” Mae, my 5 year old cousin, took the tickets shyly and then promptly came back and dispensed the Twizzlers that she “bought” with her earnings to share with the rest of us.
That? Was better than getting my high score on Skeeball any day.