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Cyclone rollercoaster to retire in July


June 27, 2014
<strong>The Cyclone rollercoaster.</strong><br>Photo courtesy of Six Flags New England

The Cyclone rollercoaster.
Photo courtesy of Six Flags New England

By Carley Dangona
carley@thereminder.com

AGAWAM – A longstanding thrill ride will soon become a lasting memory for many once the Cyclone rollercoaster is officially retired on July 20.
   
Six Flags New England (SFNE) made the announcement on June 24, the attraction’s 31st birthday. The concept of the ride was based on one at Coney Island in New York. The wooden coaster is situated on a four-acre plot, consists of 3,400 feet of track, seats 24 and reaches speeds over 50 mph.
   
“It is a bittersweet decision that was not quick in the making,” SFNE spokesperson Jennifer McGrath said. “Currently, there are no definitive plans [for the location of the Cyclone].”
   
She eluded SFNE is considering how to use the area by noting that the 2015 coming attractions announcement is slated to take place on Aug. 28.
   
When asked if it was a decision of safety, McGrath told Reminder Publications, “We could have leveraged several more years out of it.”
   
The Thunderbolt, the other wooden coaster at SFNE, will remain active as it has since 1941 when the site was known as Riverside Park. “Every theme park has to have a wooden coaster,” McGrath commented, adding that the ride will be enjoyed for “many years” to come.
   
“We love the Cyclone,” McGrath said. She stated there are many special events planned for the last day of the ride’s operation. Details will be released as the date approaches.
***
  
I, for one, am saddened by the announcement. The Cyclone is part of my history. Growing up in the area, one of the highlights of adolescence was becoming tall enough to ride the coaster. Then, as a teenager, it was a challenge among friends to see how many times you could go on the ride before enough was enough.
   
Admittedly, BATMAN: The Dark Knight is my favorite ride at SFNE, but even it can’t beat the nostalgia of the Cyclone. Memories of the ride flooded my mind – time spent with family and friends – as I rode the SkyScreamer at its grand opening this year, which overlooks the Cyclone.
   
For years, I have driven past its white frame during my travels. I can’t even picture the route without that staple. To this day whenever I ride the Cyclone, I get the same butterflies I did when I first rode it. Sometimes, I still close my eyes.
   
Maybe it’s the significance that I am old enough for a piece of my personal history to be retired, maybe it’s the realization that the days of childhood seem so long ago, maybe because it’s another goodbye to a longtime friend – whatever the reason, the announcement brought a tear to my eye.
   
For sure, I will join the many in taking once last ride to bid the Cyclone farewell.

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