Scrambling For Change

Published 6:00 pm Friday, March 25, 2011

A proud nostalgia descends on Harold Gary’s face as he gazesaround the Exchange Club fairgrounds. He smiles as he gently glideshis worn hands over the mint-green steel seats of the fair’s newlyacquired ride.

“This is going to be exciting once we get it up and running,” hesaid.

Gary, along with fellow Exchange Club members Mike Walley andJames Simpson, gleam like schoolboys as they talk about the park’snew feature. Their excitement, scheduled to be unveiled soon toeveryone else, can be summed up in two words: The Scrambler!

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Members of the Exchange Club began installing the ride Thursday- the first new adult-ride for the park in decades.

“I think this is the first adult ride we have had in 40 years,”said Gary, who has worked the county’s popular annual event since1976. “We refurbished the Tilt-a-Whirl in 2006 and added children’srides, but nothing like this for some time.”

Club members procured The Scrambler two weeks ago fromMississippi Delta Shows, LLC, the same company that sold the “KiddyCars” to the park in 1956. The ride, along with installation, costabout $20,000.

“We got a great deal,” Gary said. “We were told a brand new ridewould cost closer to a quarter of a million dollars.”

The Scrambler is located where the ‘Haunted House’ has been fortwo decades. The ‘Haunted House’ is being retired from the fair,Simpson said.

“We’re always trying to update and maintain the park,” saidWalley. “We have to renovate and refurbish this ride, doing somepower-washing and painting. But we will definitely have it readyfor the fair’s opening later this summer.”

Exchange Club members Walley, Simpson, former Sheriff Lynn Boyteand Greg Boyte spent Thursday afternoon working alongside a teamfrom Mississippi Delta Shows wiring, greasing axles and testing theride’s storied, frightening cycle.

None, however, volunteered for a personal test.

The Scrambler is a 36-seat ride with three large arms (12 carsper each arm) joined to a center axis.

The ride rotates in one direction while individual cars rotatein a counter direction, slowing the outermost part and acceleratingthe innermost part. The result is the illusion that riders willcrash into other suspended, spinning cars.

The Scrambler debuted in 1959 in England and is known around theworld by many names: The Twister, Cyclone, Sizzler, Twist andCha-Cha.

“This particular Scrambler is a 1966 model,” said Mike Jenkinsof Mississippi Delta Shows. “But don’t let the date fool you. Thiswas made when things were made well. This particular one is madefrom what we call ‘pig-iron,’ which is the real stuff.”

The Exchange Club’s annual fair has been a Brookhaven traditionsince 1952. The merry-go-round, Ferris wheel and kiddy rides werethe original features of the fair.

The 65-member club uses funds earned from the annual fair tosponsor a host of charities, scholarships and localorganizations.

“We always want to make the fair more enjoyable and to promote afamily-friendly atmosphere,” said Gary.