Going green shouldn't kill the Fun Forest at Seattle Center

So what if it's tacky?
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Sorry kids, the ride's got to go.

So what if it's tacky?

Seattle at times seems uncomfortable with pleasures and in denial about identity. As much as we try to go "world class," we get reminders there's Ballard in our blood. Case in point: Seattle Center might be gearing up to erase the Fun Forest. The center is making plans for the future, riding a new mandate to go green by creating more open space to serve the exploding downtown condo population. As outlined earlier by David Brewster, much of the discussion focuses on what to do about Center House (Food Circus for old timers) and Memorial Stadium, a dilapidated structure owned by the Seattle Public Schools. I like the concept, but not one aspect of all three options under study: take out the Fun Forest, a collection of carnival rides hard by Experience Music Project. Politics around the center can be fierce, fought with short knives over the future of KeyArena or funding shortfalls at McCaw Hall. That's where you find passions and people with influence. Not so, evidently, with the Fun Forest. It's tempting to speculate that there's a little snobbery at work toward carny rides, the leisure equivalent of pink cotton candy in a town going soy. Perhaps there's a sense that the greased steel of the roller coaster clashes with Frank Gehry's titanium. But Seattle is a city where some still like mechanized fun. They want their thrill rides. They like the hydros and a weekend in August where Blue Angels scream across the sky. I love Seattle Center and want to see it get even better, but not sanitized. There's certainly a logic to moving things around for efficiencies, new facilities, better sight lines and yes, more open space. Seattle Center's great achievement since 1962 was finding a way to welcome everybody and achieving a balance of uses, elegant and tacky, blue hairs and the buzz cuts, heavy metal, and Wagner. So don't kill the rides. Find a home for them. Not everybody likes opera or can afford pro basketball. Some people, especially people with young kids, enjoy the ferris wheel, bumper cars and the Orbiter. Sure, they're tacky. But once in a while, a corn dog tastes great.


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About the Authors & Contributors

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O. Casey Corr

O. Casey Corr is a Seattle native, author and marketing communications consultant.