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Boardwalk unveils vintage kiddie ride

Posted: Friday, Aug 8th, 2014

Children take a spin on Kiddie Cruzers, a restored vintage ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Thursday. (Photos by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian)

SANTA CRUZ — The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s newest ride is actually 65 years old.

Kiddie Cruzers made its debut on Aug. 1, a completely-restored small ride for the young ones that was built in 1949 by the Allan Herschell Company of New York.

The ride consists of six cast aluminum vehicles, which include a fire truck and taxi cab, that travel in a circle around the base.

Todd Manoff, mechanical maintenance manager of the Boardwalk, said he located the ride in Meriden, Conn. in September. The ride was being operated for special events, but it was up for sale.

“It’s a neat little nostalgic ride,” Manoff said. “I think it’s going to be a great addition to the park.”

While it was in operating condition, the ride needed some maintenance work, he said. Manoff and his maintenance crew, working in between shifts and during their spare time, restored the ride so it would be able to withstand the elements of operating year-round, such as replacing the wood decking with stainless steel platforms.

They also gave it a Santa Cruz flair to fit in with the themeing of the Boardwalk, transforming one car into a woodie and placing a Santa Cruz Fire Department logo on the fire truck, among other finishing touches.

“It was a lot of work to do, a lot of effort in getting it done,” Manoff said.

The small footprint of the ride, about 20 feet in diameter with fencing, made it ideal for the limited open land available at the park, according to Manoff. Situated between Sea Swings and Rock & Roll, Kiddie Cruzers helps fill a need for a kiddie ride in an area of the park that was lacking in them, he said.

Allan Herschell Company built these kiddie auto rides from around 1946 to 1952. Most were 10 vehicle rides built in both portable and permanent units.

But what makes Kiddie Cruzers unique is that it is only six vehicles, Manoff said.

The company, which was formed in 1915, also built carousels and roller coasters. It merged with Chance Manufacturing in 1970.

A number of Allan Herschell Company rides are still operating at parks around the nation and Canada.

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