On Friday Mom, Dad, Andy and I went to Hershey Park, Milton Hershey’s wonderland in the Pennsylvania town that bears his sweet name. Theme parks have never been our family’s “thing,” but going to Hershey is one of those things we have to do once a year. Like a lot of family traditions, Sharon and I have outgrown them, but we keep doing them year after year for “old time’s sake.” But on this trip to Hershey, I realized it’s not just nostalgia that keeps us coming back to Hershey, it’s actually just good, mindless fun.
On our hour and half drive to the park, we talked about the stock market crash, the Euro, the oil spill and the environment, all important, heavy topics that need to be discussed but leave you just shy of tears. It was a relief to get out of the car, stretch our legs and forget for a moment all the global and national crises . . . as well as our own personal tribulations.
Our favorite ride begins before you ever enter the park. It’s a shameless, kitchy promo for Hershey, Inc. We climb into moving carts that whisk us around a mock-chocolate factory, explaining the process of how Hershey’s chocolate is made, from bean to bar. Of course it’s geared towards kids and completely cheezeball (particularly the singing cows), but we love it, especially the free mini-bar of chocolate at the end of the ride.
Mom, Dad and I have made many pilgrimages to this site, but this was Andy’s first visit. I wondered what he, with all his English sensibilities, would make of it. I should have known it would be a winning combination—chocolate for me, thrills for him. Andy loves anything dangerous: off-trail snowboarding in avalanche-prone zones, free falling from airplanes, bungee jumping from great heights and in this case, roller coasters. Hershey’s nine roller coasters are top notch and at the end of the day I had the wild hair and knotted insides to prove it. I wanted to hate it, but in fact, I loved ever minute of it.
At the end of the day we returned to the car, sun-kissed and exhausted, but exuberant. We turned on NPR for the evening news. The headlines were still the same, but I felt a little more capable of dealing.