Dangerous Playground Rides: Whili-gig of terror!

Calling all children: The magnificent whirli-gig at Harrisville Town Beach quietly waits for unsuspecting children.

Bumps and bruises are fine.

I was thrilled to discover that Harrisville Pond beach playground had an old school whirli-gig! Some of you of a certain age may remember one of the greatest of dangerous playground rides. It also went by the name merry-go-round or a fun-go-round.

In Buffalo, it was called a whirli-gig. This is before our playgrounds became boring and lawsuit sanitized; full of plastic instead of hot metal and mulch chips instead of concrete.

The whirli-gig was around when you could light a piece of paper on fire by touching it to the side of an enormous sharp-edged slide, and crashing on a see-saw meant you’d go head over arse into gravel.

Think I’m exaggerating about how scared we’ve become of our playgrounds? Try typing in “dangerous playground rides” on Google. You know what gets the most hits? Lawyers.

Anyway, the whirli-gig is a circular spinning platform (metal of course) that stands on a rotating ball bearing base about a half-foot off the ground. It has crude hand railings (more metal) that the child can grasp in a vain attempt to remain on the ride while someone (usually an adult) whips the ride around in a circle fast enough to fling the children off.

The thus flung children would likely then either burn their legs and hands on the serrated, steel floor of the device, or bash their heads into the hand railings, or if they were lucky, would fly entirely off the whirli-gig onto the hard cement.

Those children that did manage to defy gravity itself and stay on the ride would be so dizzy when they got off that they would just walk straight into trees or fall down like little drunks.

This was, by far, the finest ride in the old playground.

Today’s version of the whirli-gig is a dreary unedged plastic abomination, with textured handles to prevent slippage.  The bearings are no longer free running, so even several adults together cannot get the thing up to the G-force speed of the old ride.

A ride like the whirli-gig in Harrisville should be as much a part of a kid’s coming of age as the first bike crash, falling out of a tree the first time or the time-honored tradition of that first stitch on your knee.

So kudos to you, Harrisville for understanding that skinned knees are just fine! I will take the twins to Harrisville. We will ride the whirli-gig. I will know where the nearest emergency room is. And life will be good.

Let’s hear from our readers around the state. There must be some old-school playground rides hiding in tiny town playgrounds, far from the safety regulators and lawyers. Find them for us. Tell us know where they are. We’ll ride them. And when our injuries heal, we’ll let you know how it was!

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16 Responses to Dangerous Playground Rides: Whili-gig of terror!

  1. Nancy says:

    Oh, my gosh … I never could ride these!! How wonderful some still exist!

  2. SDR106 says:

    I remember the ‘Merry-Go-Round’ as we called it. I remember not being able to get off because it WOULD NOT STOP!!! Believe it or not, the Monkey Bars are equally as dangerous. In 2nd grade, my daughter Caitlin sustained a spiral leg fracture after falling off at school during recess. A few folk’s suggested we sue! But we never saw a hospital bill and there were no lasting effects, It was an accident..

    • Jeez, sorry to hear that Scott! Glad it turned out ok. Those old rides are tricky. Today’s monkey bars are not much different, though made of different material and have better grips on them.

  3. George says:

    You can also find one at the playground across from the Hampton Beach Casino. We took our little one there this past weekend and while attempting to achieve G-force I fell and landed on my butt. I had everyone around laughing theirs off as well. What a great memory!

  4. Ralph says:

    I used to LOVE those! Now I get nauseas just looking at them. Sucks getting old…

  5. Pingback: Dangerous Playground Rides: Flesh burning, ankle busting, crown slide! | EKP Adventures

  6. infogdss29 says:

    Here is a picture of the Hampton Beach Playground, with Aaron and Janelle riding on the Merry Go Round in May 2009. Note the daredevils sitting on the bars. Dangerous!

    Merry-Go-Round Hampton Beach

  7. Pingback: Dangerous Playground Rides: Teamster Union special! | EKP Adventures

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