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What: Cape Girardeau Spring Carnival
Where: West Park Mall parking lot
When: April 26 to May 5
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays, 1-10 p.m. Sundays and 5-10 p.m. weekdays.
By Andrea L. Buchanan ~ Southeast Missourian
The sound of children shrieking and the scent of popcorn and funnel cake announced the arrival Friday of the season's first carnival.
Fun Times and Davidson carnival is in town for the next 10 days, set up in the West Park mall parking lot.
Jim Govro, general manager Westfield Shoppingtown West Park said he hopes the Cape Girardeau Spring Carnival increases patronage for stores in the mall and other surrounding businesses.
This year, mall management arranged for the carnival to arrive earlier than usual to coincide with spring clearance sales, he said.
"Hopefully we'll have some fun and run early spring traffic counts up," Govro said.
Lori Davidson, who owns the carnival with her husband, Steve, said this is the carnival's first year in Cape Girardeau, so she can't compare the experience with any other year. She said she expects an average attendance of about 200 per night.
The carnival opened at 5 p.m. Friday with drizzling rain and 57-degree weather with light crowds arriving later, after the rain stopped.
Young men in tank tops tried not to shiver as they strutted down the midway.
Some others quickly lost their money on the midway, blowing $30 in an hour throwing darts, tossing whiffle balls or launching basket balls only to haul home a tiny stuffed dog, a Harley Davidson poster or a travel-sized game of checkers with a paper playing board.
In the ride area, small children could grab a piece of burlap and ride a gigantic slide while the older and more daring could climb in the Rolloplane.
Friday, the Gravitron drew customers between the ages of 10 and 35, the youngsters drawn by the flashing lights and spaceship-like body. The older clients were sucked in by the thumping sounds of Fleetwood Mac.
Inside, all were soon gasping, squealing or grinning, plastered to the walls by centrifugal force.
Friday was Susan Reinacher's first night on the job. Reinacher, of Jackson, Mo., said she took a job with the carnival because it sounded like fun.
She runs a shooting game in which patrons fire corks from a gun and try to knock down wooden targets.
If she and her fiancee, who operates one of the rides, enjoy the 10-day stint in Cape Girardeau, they may choose to travel with the carnival, which moves from town to town in Missouri, Arkansas and Texas.
Tom Miller, a professional photographer from of Poplar Bluff, Mo., said he decided to "run away and join the circus" after he retired. Miller, who operates a children's ride said he sees the carnival as "like a paid vacation."
335-6611, extension 160