The Greatest Himalaya Rider of All Time Came to Wonderland Park in Amarillo, Texas
Wonderland Park in Amarillo, Texas is a totally different place when there's no one there.
And there was not a soul to be found the day I went to meet Tyrone May at Amarillo's long-standing, beloved amusement park.
If you had asked me to imagine Wonderland Park without people, i would have described a spooky atmosphere. To the contrary, it was peaceful and idyllic. A dream frozen in time.
It wasn't supposed to be empty, of course. I had planned to meet Tyrone right as the park opened at 1pm. But then the rains came. And with the rain came hail. By the time the storm passed, I knew the park would close out of safety precautions.
But Paul, the wise wizard of Wonderland Park, insisted I still come. He would keep the gates open for just us. And so I was able to walk through the quiet gates and meet Tyrone May, the greatest Himalaya Rider of all time.
Of course, he prefers the term 'Himalaya Geek'.
From slope to slope, snowfall to disco balls, Tyrone May is a passionate auteur of the Himalaya ride. And now, with the Himalaya of Wonderland Park under his belt, Tyrone May can finally say he's rode them all.
All 25 of them in the States that he knows of, anyway.
For well over 18 years, he has maintained a website dedicated to the celebration of all things HImalaya. In one section where he details the history of the classic shimmery carnival ride, it's easy to see the category that Wonderland Park's falls under. .
The true fascination for many, including myself, lies in the realization that there is a thriving subculture of individuals who are transfixed by and devoted to the immersive ethnographic space of American amusement parks. Every ride has a fiercely loyal following (however small it may be) who maintain a tight network for their shared passion.
And a passion it must be, for Tyrone May to travel from his home on the East Coast to Amarillo, Texas in order to ride his beloved Himalaya ride.
While I may never be part of the fiercely devoted group of amusement park aficionados, I do know that as we walked through the impossible stillness of Wonderland, the slight tug of that old feeling of childish magic was palpable. And for at least one brief moment in time, I was tempted to let myself fall back into the the yearning for youth and the magic of a night spent at Wonderland Park.
With all things said, endless thanks to Tyrone May, the Greatest Himalaya Rider of All Time. And to Paul, for sharing his kingdom with all of us.