Kevin Tate had to go all the way to Europe to get the gondola-style Ferris Wheel that serves as one of the centerpieces of his California Carnival Co.
And as the sunlight started to disappear Wednesday night, that very attraction – which towered over the flat parking lot that once housed cars of electronics fans that funneled into the long defunct Best Buy – could be spotted from just about anywhere on the Highway 120 bypass.
The height helped, sure. But it was the LED package that he had added that dazzled motorists and thrill seekers alike on the first night of the 18th annual Manteca Crossroads Street Fair carnival at Orchard Valley. It was an alternating display that made it look like a swirling peppermint candy, a sunburst explosion and something altogether different than the standard glass-filament bulbs that people typically associate with carnivals.
It caught the attention of Billy Howell.
“I was just driving by and I figured I’d come have a closer look,” he said. “I’m thinking about bringing the kids down here tomorrow so I’m glad that I just happened to be going this way on my way home from work.
“There are a lot of things that you expect when you go to the carnival, but this isn’t one of them. I think it’s something that the people of Manteca are going to enjoy.”
Tate already gave local residents a glimpse at what he had in store for them in February when he set-up for the weekend at the Mistlin Sports Complex – fulfilling his other local contract as the provider of rides and games for the annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival.
All of the favorites made the trip this time as well.
Last year the company added a high-speed, rock-and-roll romp known as “The Typhoon” that mixed adrenaline, deafening music and rising smoke for a thrilling experience that drew long lines at every community they visited. That is once again back, as is the reworked Jumanji Funhouse for kids.
Other kids rides include a tractor attraction that debuted this season and a dragon-themed roller coaster, in addition to others.
The carnival is open today and Friday from 4 to 10 p.m. as well as Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. at Orchard Valley. The actual street fair is Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Manteca.