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Essay: Ramona Park

“How about the roller coaster?” my father says but I shake my head.

“I want to go on the carousel,” I say and Dad frowns, wishing his daughter was more adventurous. “I need to ride a brown horse because nobody picks the brown ones.”

“I want to ride on the lion,” my younger brother says.

Bob prefers the lion because it doesn’t move and I decide to not tease him because he knows I’m afraid of the roller coaster. We are at Ramona Park in Grand Rapids where we grew up, not an amusement destination but a big deal for us.

Inside the carousel pavilion, the music is blaring and the horses are galloping around and around beneath the colored lights and flashing mirrors. When they finally stop, I walk past the white and black horses and pick a brown one with an arched neck and long tail.

A man in a red cap helps me climb up into the slippery saddle. “Hang on tight,” he says and I grab the brass pole. The music begins and the brown horse moves up and down, up and down, faster and faster, until we’re flying, soaring, riding the wind.

Somewhere in the crowd, I see my father. He is smiling now and waving at Bob and me.

Maybe it’s okay if we’re not brave.

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.