Playland Park

The west coast has Santa Cruz; New York City has Coney Island; but Rye, NY? Rye has Rye Playland.

Growing up in earshot of the latter seaside park, summers would always be punctuated by the fireworks shows every Wednesday and Friday night that could be seen from my bedroom window. Amid the echoes of the explosions off the neighbor's houses, the clatter of the historic wooden Dragon Coaster rattling along would always leave me breathless as I searched for any audible indication that the coaster hadn't fallen off its tracks or disintegrated into a pile of firewood. The timed screams a few seconds later would indicate that all was well and disaster had been averted. If the wind were right, you could hear snippets from the Grand Carousel, or a 'toot-toot' from the Playland Express, a train that would travel around Kiddyland.

Luna Park


Though Playland was literally in our backyard, we hardly ever went except to get some cotton candy and drop paint onto a piece of paper that would quickly spin on a centrifuge creating "modern art." Yet people would come from all over Westchester County and even beyond to spend a summer night. At closing, the stream of cars heading out along Playland Parkway was as thick as the humid night air. But we wouldn't be caught dead there.

Today, Playland still somehow plugs along under private management for the first time the same way that Coney Island and Santa Cruz's boardwalk hang on in the age of instant connection and entertainment in the palm of our hands. Despite the seductiveness of watching a movie no matter where you are on the planet, there is still a draw to seaside parks, perhaps, if only, to use those same movie-watching devices to pictorally declare to the world that you are too cool to just watch movies on a phone. Eventually, those kids will have their own kids whom they will take to Playland so that they can reminisce about the time they went to Playland. And so the cycle will go on, steadily reinforced by nostalgia and faded memories.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

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