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The Park Closes at Dusk--Palisades Amusement Park

The Park Closes at Dusk--Palisades Amusement Park

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Memories of Palisades Amusement Park and almost becoming Little Miss America.
Memories of Palisades Amusement Park and almost becoming Little Miss America.

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Published by: Ann Meyers Piccirillo on Apr 22, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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(Photo courtesy of 
PalisadesPark.com and the Cliffside Park Free Public Library)
By Ann Piccirillo
Seems April skies are in her eyes,A living doll that talks smiling as she walks.May she stay somehow sweet as she is now.Little Miss America take a bow.-Gladys Shelley
I clenched it tightly in my hand. So giddy was I with delight that Ihopscotched around the perimeter of the crooked columns of puddlesthat lined the concessioned Midway careful not to ruin my new white patent-leather Easter shoes. With practiced theatrical flair, I lifted theskirt of my yellow-eyelet dress to protect its netted hem from thesplishy-splashy-splatters my heels were unintentionally kicking up. A
girl had to dress just right for a momentous occasion such as this, youknow. Clutched between the fingers of my “Tinker Bell” nail-polishedhand was the application to the “Little Miss America Pageant.”I have such fond memories of Palisades Amusement Park— Casper’s Ghostland, the Caterpillar ride, the Archie Hot Rod ride, theFrench fries with vinegar, the games-of-chance, but there are twomoments that stand out most. The first is Bozo the Clown bending downas I sat in my stroller, his soft white-gloved hand tickling my chin, andtelling me with his zany laugh that he loved my red hair. I remember feeling faint as my idol patted my head like a dog. The second momentis hugging that “Little Miss America Pageant” application to my heart.For years, I waited patiently to make the five-year-old agerequirement so that I could showcase my talent to the world. I had noidea what that talent was. I couldn’t tap dance; I couldn’t sing; and myattempts at cartwheeling resulted in the toe-heel destruction of many porcelain knick-knacks my mother had precisely scattered around theliving room. However, I knew that in order to “win it” I had to “have
it,” and I was trying really hard to “find it.” (Four decades later I’m stilltrying to “find it.”)Unfortunately, my father did not share my excitement about the“Little Miss America Pageant.” To put it mildly, he didn’t like the ideaof his daughter prancing upon a stage before a crowd of strangers. Itdidn’t help that my life goal at that time was to be a “go-go dancer” andI routinely paraded around the house in a blue leotard and white knee-hi“go-go” boots dancing to “Chika-a-Boom (dontcha just love it!)” Hey, Iwas a product of my times. “Laugh-In” was
man; Goldie Hawn madedancing in a bikini with body-graffiti and boots cool. And Dean Martin’s“Golddiggers” turned T.V. into a party!It’s funny how a child’s brain disregards historical timelines. Someof my earliest memories are fractured moments woven together intostories that, in many cases, neglect any accurate historical sequence. For instance, I have no memory of “The Park’s” closing. Nada. None. All Iremember is that in April of 1971 I held the application to the “LittleMiss America Pageant” in my hand, and the next memory is of the park 

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