Even though I’m a fully grown adult, every now and then I’ll steal down to the rides in downtown Seaside with a few friends after a meal. I’ve always thought that the draw of bumper cars has a curious cathartic appeal. Considering that we all spend so much time on the road concentrating on avoiding bumping into one another, it’s no wonder that while on vacation at the beach it’s satisfying to unshackle your caution and plunge into the bumper car traffic.
Each year, thousands of kids and adults come to Seaside and get behind the wheel of a vintage bumper car, try their hand at a round of mini-golf, or squeal with dizzying delight on the Tilt-a-Whirl. For just over sixty years, the western stretch of downtown Broadway has been dedicated to the amusements you can find there today.
When spring finally rolls around, Seaside’s renowned amusement rides open once again for the year. This year, I headed downtown to catch the opening weekend and got behind the wheel of a cherry-red battlewagon. The bumper car operator told me that all of the 1950s style cars had just been waxed and polished. Mine gleamed like a jewel in a box, and as the horn sounded everybody struck peddle to vintage metal. I quickly found that I was sorely out of practice; but happily, it’s just as much fun to absorb collisions as dish them out. In the midst of particularly epic collisions, everybody is laughing out loud. Where else can you get together with both friends and strangers, toss out the day-to-day rules of civilized vehicular engagement, and double-up with laughter the whole time? Cathartic indeed.