World News – US – Once frozen by pandemic, Golden Gate Park finally turns its Ferris wheel


Finally, the giant Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park started doing what the wheels are supposed to do on Wednesday It started going in circles

« All’s well that ends well, » said Todd Schneider, co-owner of the 150-foot Sky Star wheel, as the long line of customers finally got a chance to board the monster at the far end. east of the Music Competition The wheel has been idling for months, frozen in time by the pandemic

« Wow! » said Max Kean, 10, of San Francisco, who took one of the first trips with his mom and grandfather, “You can see boats, the ocean, buildings and all that green stuff there. « 

Max said he was not afraid and his grandfather, John Delara, said he was not afraid either, at 85

The drama that has plagued the giant wheel since arriving in San Francisco in March continued until the last moment On Tuesday, Mayor London Breed and other dignitaries were barred from taking a ceremonial turn behind the wheel when Cal-OSHA safety inspector James Denny said he had even more inspections to do Denny and his foot-long flashlight were back at work early Wednesday and, with Schneider pacing, the inspector finally handed over the valuable operating license just six minutes before the time of day. public opening displayed at noon

Schneider took the permit from the control booth and informed his operator that he was finally OK to press the « on » button

It was just the last ride in the long-delayed opening of the wheel In March, the disassembled wheel arrived in San Francisco on 14 trucks from its old home in Cincinnati Plans were for it to spin at the Golden Gate Park for a year, to help the park celebrate its 150th anniversary, so the pandemic will stop it from functioning

The park’s anniversary celebrations were also largely canceled, and the social justice protests in June, which led to the toppling of nearby statues of Ulysses Grant, Junipero Serra and Francis Scott Key, made the long and lonely vigil of the wheel in the park even more lonely

All of this was forgotten on Wednesday, as paying customers boarded the 36 air-conditioned passenger gondolas from the steering wheel after passing a sign warning them, if they had vertigo or claustrophobia, they should think twice. times

« Sounds a bit pricey, » said Mark Carrington, who moved in with his 11-year-old daughter, Ashley. He admitted, however, that it was « less than a trip to Disneyland »

Ruth Ann Gonzales drove by with her dog, Netsa, and said the wheel was nice but she didn’t decide if she was going to get on it

« You are riding in a small, enclosed space that a lot of other people have entered and exited, » she said « And there is a pandemic »

The Sky Star, built in the Netherlands three years ago at a cost of $ 10 million, is the biggest Ferris wheel ever to be spun in San Francisco It was designed to be portable or as portable as something that requires 14 trucks to move from place to place Besides Cincinnati, it has already toured in Norfolk, Va, and Louisville, Ky

Sky Star owners insist on calling it an « observation wheel » instead of a ferris wheel, perhaps in the hope that the extra syllables will make customers forget the price of the ticket. was in Cincinnati one ride was $ 12.50 Gondolas aren’t the only thing on big wheels going up

From the top of the wheel on a clear day like Wednesday, it was possible to see the ocean, the bay, the downtown skyline, the peaks of the Golden Gate Bridge towers, and the thousands of skyline of Richmond and Sunset District At 150 feet – about a quarter the height of the Las Vegas Ferris Wheel – the Sky Star was not high enough for people on the ground to look like ants They looked like people

It wasn’t immediately clear how long the wheel will stay in San Francisco The original contract was for one year, but park officials and Schneider said they were ready to continue racing after March, in ticket sales function Under the terms of the contract, the city keeps $ 1 on each ticket sold

The Sky Star is six feet taller than the 144-foot observation deck of the MH de Young Museum tower next door, a vantage point with a similar vantage point Young’s Tower also has the advantage of being free The observation deck remains closed for the moment, although the galleries of the museum have reopened

Museum spokeswoman Helena Nordstrom said there was no immediate plan to reopen the observation deck, as it is not possible to maintain social distancing in the elevators of the bridge

« But we hope the Ferris wheel runners take the opportunity to visit the museum, » she said, noting that a museum ticket, at $ 15, is cheaper and allows a visitor to stay all day instead of 12 minutes

Chronicle editor Steve Rubenstein joined The Chronicle’s reporting team in 1976 He has served as a subway reporter, columnist, critic and columnist He left the staff in 2009 to teach in elementary school and returned to staff in 2015 He is married, has a son and daughter and lives in San Francisco He is a cyclist and harmonica player, sometimes at the same time

Golden Gate Park, Ferris wheel, San Francisco, Londoner breed

News from the world – United States – Once frozen by the pandemic, Golden Gate Park finally turns its big one wheel


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