Early Morning at the Luna Park | Mark Lindsay

Morning walks on the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore—something I experienced often in my youth—were always weird. The amusements and food concessions were meant to be experienced at night, or at the very least at dusk. Mornings on the boardwalk were akin to waking up on the on the living room couch on the morning after a party. Stale odors and bits of refuse mixed with the ambience of the misty, salt air. The rising sun revealed stragglers who seemed just a little lost. The fun was over. Morning’s clarity brought new light to the hangover of too much fun and spent adrenaline. Yes, morning walks on the New Jersey’s boardwalks were strange—but I loved them anyway.

Venice also has amusements next to the water. Called the Luna Park, the rides and concessions arrive by barge right before Christmas. The amusement park is set up on the riva near Via Garibaldi. I discovered the Luna Park a few years ago during my early morning walks. Not nearly as eerie as a closed-up boardwalk, the park and marine air still brought back memories of my youth. It attracted me most every morning, even though it was a good, long trek from our apartment. Camera in hand, I wandered around the day-glow colors and bare, dead lightbulbs, vowing to return at dusk when things came alive.

Dusk comes early in the Venetian winter and on Christmas, in late afternoon, we went to Luna Park to wander around and watch the crowd. It smelled just like the boardwalk. The smell of frying oil was in the air, as was the burnt-sugar odor of cotton candy. The rides were glowing with radioactive colors. Swirling motion, music, and sounds of screeching kids filled the air. Yes, this was the way amusement parks were meant to be! Yet, the memories of those morning walks still lingered. Fifty years of memories swirled around in the Venetian fog as I watched some teenager stand in the center of a spinning and tilting platform. Maybe he was part of some kind of time machine, casting a spell on me. Getting dizzy, I looked away from the whirling teenager. I shook off my visions of the Jersey Shore. Walking back down the riva to our apartment I regained my balance and vowed to return to the Luna Park; something I did the next day on the morning after.