The Lure of Lakeside

Sure, the Cyclone rollercoaster stalled on its tracks last Sunday, but that won't keep me from going back to Lakeside Amusement Park this summer. As soon as it's green-lighted, I'll be back on the beast that has been scaring me since I was a kid. My grandfather took me to Lakeside every year for Samsonite Day, and we would gleefully ride the Cyclone together, laughing at all the aunts and uncle and cousins watching from the ground. It looked bad, but it was a heck of a lot safer than that devil coaster, the Wild Chipmunk.

Even though I spent those years wishing we were going to Elitch's -- the old Elitch's — these days I'm all about Lakeside. I even spent my thirtieth birthday at the down-on-its-luck park last year, and I'll be torturing myself on the Tilt-A-Whirl again this summer. There's something magical about the run-down art-deco buildings, the gracious old trees, the tiny train that still runs around the lake. Sometimes rides are closed for maintenance, sometimes you wish rides were closed for maintenance, but there's never a dull moment — because there's never a three-hour line. Heck, there's rarely a five-minute line. Sure, I wish Lakeside management would clean up the old racetrack so the park's neighbors across the street in the tiny town of Mountain View would quit complaining, but the sight doesn't bug me so much that I'd ever skip Lakeside for the new Elitch's. I went once, and found the creepy Batman, Bugs and Taz trying to touch me and take pictures were a lot scarier than the Cyclone stalling on its tracks. — Amy Haimerl

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun