John Bates: Riding “The Bobs”

TheBobs-RollerCoaster

I’ve decided a good analogy for my experience with the building of the Welcome Project this summer is like riding a great roller coaster. It’s a bit scary as you get on, there’s the big anticipation as you slowly climb the first big hill, gears and chains clanking away. Then you’re on your way—no turning back. There’s exhilaration as you speed down and around, sometimes a bit weightless, sometimes experiencing several G’s going around a corner fast. The occasional surprise dip or unexpected turn, but by now you have a wide smile, feel exhilarated, and a have a sense of accomplishment as you see the final set of turns and dips ahead.

I grew up in the 1960s in the Chicago area and during the summer we always anticipated the annual pilgrimage to Riverview Park, an amusement park just west of Wrigley Field. Riverview was old-school amusement park; Aladdin’s Castle, the Chutes boat ride into water – “Don’t rock the boat, keep your hands inside the boat” repeated endlessly waiting to get on – and then, there’s the roller coasters. These were all wood roller coasters, one of which was perhaps the world’s greatest ever wooden roller coaster: The Bobs. There was nothing like riding The Bobs. Seeing the expressions of exhilaration and joy on the faces of those finishing the ride and getting off as you waited to get on were all you needed to overcome your trepidation. As the building of the Welcome Project nears completion over the next weeks, I hope you feel the same joy, excitement, and sense of accomplishment.