With the arrival of spring, California is showing some green shoots of normal in its yearlong battle with the COVID-19 virus. The Monterey Bay Aquarium announced it will reopen in May. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, also closed for much of the year, opens April 1.
The COVID-19 pandemic did to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk what the Great Depression, two world wars and the 1989 earthquake could not.
“Rides have never sat silent for an entire summer the way they did in the summer of 2020," Boardwalk spokesman Kris Reyes explained.
But that silence was broken on Thursday by the sounds of laughter and screams as many of the Boardwalk’s rides were reopened. Amusement parks are allowed to reopen thanks to a change in the state’s Blueprint for Safer Economy.
Reyes said about eight to 12 rides will be available opening day.
“It'll be a selection of kid rides, family rides and thrill rides," he added. "We're not opening the carousel at this time because we have some challenges with that ride as it relates to outdoor queuing.”
Which rides are open could change from day to day, so Reyes said it’s best to check the Boardwalk website leaving home. There is one ride that will definitely be open; the Boardwalk’s famous roller coaster.
“The giant dipper is one of the most iconic roller coasters in this country, maybe the world. You can't beat the natural surroundings of it and the history of it," said Reyes.
So, the Giant Dipper will be open every day.
Still, concern over the pandemic continues and there are restrictions. For example, you need to be a California resident to ride, everyone must wear a mask even on the rides and the Boardwalk is limited to 25 percent capacity.
While it is not like it was before the pandemic began, it is a step forward.
“Whether it's riding the Giant Dipper or the Undertow Coaster or taking your little ones on Bulgy the Whale for the first time or having that corndog that you love, those experiences will still be there.”
They are experiences many of us have not experienced in more than a year.