Here in North East, Pennsylvania, a little town in northwestern Pennsylvania, we celebrate cherries every summer. This past weekend was our Cherry Festival, sponsored by our local Volunteer Fire Departments. I remember up until about 3 years ago that everyone used to love the Dunking Booth with Hobo the Clown and some of our local citizens, the Cherry Pies that sold for $5.00 each, lots of carnival rides like the Round Up, the Flying Bobs, and the Ferris Wheel, each one took 3 tickets, which at the time were no more than 50 cents each, unless you bought the advanced tickets which substituted for 3 regular priced tickets and were cheaper, the Tuesday and Saturday Ride-A-Rama was $5.00…then to end the 5 day event, the parade. A two-hour parade, full of floats, music, children, animals, and clowns. Everyone was running along the side of the road, hoping to be sprayed by fire trucks, children were running hoping to catch candy thrown from the floats. That was then, this is now.
This past weekend, I took my own children to the Cherry Festival. The Ride-A-Rama was $10 per child! That was thirty dollars for my three children to ride about 5 rides! They only had 8 rides, 5 of which my children were old enough to ride. In order to grab a duck out of the duckpond, they wanted us to pay $3 per duck! Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago that it cost only a dollar? Instead of seeing the dunking booth, the pie-eating contest, and the firetrucks at the parade, the whole field was packed with radio stations, games that cost $5 to win a stuffed animal (which by the way would fall apart as soon as a child slept with it), and goldfish that came home and would be buried the next day due to the food coloring and balls that got tossed in the water with them. And those yummy Cherry Pies? EIGHT DOLLARS!! I don’t think I have ever spent $8 on a small cherry pie in my life!
After thinking about filing bankruptcy for next year before going to the Cherry Festival, because who knows how much the prices will go up by then, we went to the parade. The parade which used to last two hours lasted two hours and 45 minutes. Why? Well, that is a good question. There were only three floats, maybe 5 groups of children, and 15 firetrucks. The rest were advertisements. Instead of throwing candy, people came rushing up to the parade viewers with coupons for flying lessons, flyers for hockey lessons and new cars, and suckers attached to papers that wanted us to vote for a new mayor for the city of Erie. Then came the Burger King Hummer, Cramer Motors car dealership, GJ Miller car dealership, Libbey fruit farms, and many more advertisements. The Zem Zems weren’t even all there! For every legit act in the parade, there were five who were in it just for advertising. My children were not impressed. Not much candy throwing, every so often someone came up to give them a piece of candy, and no one got sprayed with water from the fire trucks.
I guess even though I am only 28 that I am still old-fashioned. The Cherry Festival was advertised as an old fashioned event. I did not see anything old-fashioned about advertizing or about the Cherry Festival. I miss the days when people wanted to just worry about having fun, what they were going to ride, and how many fire trucks were going to be in the parade. Now people are worried about which car would look better with a slogan on it, what logo looks best on a Hummer, and which color stands out more for banners. Gone are the days of „good old-fashioned fun“ and in are the days of everyone trying to make a buck even from the children.