Happy 90th, Giant Dipper

Santa Cruz's behemoth of a roller coaster starts its 10th decade.

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REMEMBER BACK: What were you doing in 1924? Specifically, the middle of May? Is your memory jogged? Recollections flooding back? If you were an adventurous, thrill-loving sort, with a taste for salt air and candy-sweet treats, and you were in Santa Cruz, you might have been one of the very first people to board the Giant Dipper, one of the world's great coasters, and for sure one of the most famous wooden rides every built. The mammoth attraction debuted on May 17, 1924, to eager riders who ponied up fifteen cents for a spin. (The ride is now six bucks.) Nostalgia and memory and summers past all run deep at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Dipper's longtime home, so you can bet that the Pacific-snug spot is going to throw its curve-laden symbol a 90th birthday party.

AND THAT PARTY... rolls on Saturday, May 17 (we do love when anniversary celebrations land right on the date in question). Everyone rides free from 10 to 11 a.m. -- be sure to scream a little louder during your up-and-down roll, to celebrate the cash you didn't spend -- and the "first 500 riders on the Giant Dipper receive a commemorative 90th Anniversary pin" starting at 11 a.m. (bonus: "PLUS other prize winners every hour!")

LIVE MUSIC... from Lost at Sea and a general air of ye-olde-fun-tymes'll rule the day. And even if you can't make the roller coaster's big 90th consider May 17 as the season kick-off to summer. Meaning? Oodles of events are ahead, the sort of things you'll want to down a cone of cotton candy while enjoying. Question: What is the shape of cotton candy called? A cotton candy cloud? A cotton candy bouffant? These are the sort of important questions one wants to think while waiting in line for one of history's most magnificent, stomach-bumpy, charms-aplenty coasters.

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