We arrive early and are greeted by screams and shouts of joy, the roller coaster whizzing past above the main entrance taking passengers on a joyride across the Santa Cruz boardwalk. The walkway sits upon the beachfront, a wooden construction designed as an amusement park. On one side are shops, game stations, rides and roller coasters, and at the other end is the beach, lined with tents, swimmers, and other beach goers relaxing in the ocean water and sunshine.
The food stalls are alive and thriving as queues back up onto the wooden path for visitors. Churros, jumbo burgers and boardwalk fries, giant Texas doughnuts, ice cream, and other varieties of sweet and savory snacks are on offer. The options are vast and overwhelming, especially to the children who point and tug at the arms of their parents. Inside one of the small tent stalls sit two caricature artists, asking us to come over for a portrait. I reluctantly walk away, wondering what I would look like as a cartoon caricature. Their work shines and pops from their canvas, and they have no shortage of suitors within a few minutes. As we continue further, one of the main attractions are the carnival stations designed for visitors to win prizes. Baseball throws, soccer shots, and simple point and aim games invite visitors to try their luck in winning stuffed animals, toys, and other fun amenities to take home. The boardwalk is filled with bags and strollers holding oversized stuffed toys and colorful prizes.
We finally decide on food options, enjoying lunch before strolling once again through to the opposite end of the walkway. There are hundreds of families making their way across the crowds, carrying their carnival winnings, shopped items, and their small children. The young people are thrilled to be surrounded by the treats and amusement park rides. The east end is covered from the sun, designated as a space for souvenir and surf shops. We purchase a few gifts before heading back out for a final taste of ice cream. Seated on a bench near the entrance, we bask in the early afternoon heat for before bidding the Santa Cruz Boardwalk goodbye for the summer.