By Paula @ Holiday World

Our friend Kevin, who owns Santa's Candy Castle here in town, emailed us this great story about a recent visit:

Last Saturday (7/12) my wife had her family's annual family reunion here in Spencer County. The day after the reunion, we took a group of out-of-town relatives to Holiday World for the day. It was mostly families with young children, but my wife’s 82-year-old grandfather ("Papaw") also came along. As we went into each section of the park, my wife, kids and I (who all have season passes) took Papaw to the gift shops, shows, and free drink stations, so that the rest of the group could enjoy as much ride time as possible.

After a fair amount of time at the park without riding very much, Papaw really enjoyed it when we took him on the Gobbler Getaway. He had such a good time, he decided that he was going to start going on all the rides with the rest of the group. Well, the next ride everyone was heading to was, of course, The Voyage! I seriously questioned the wisdom of sending an 82-year-old man (who’s probably about 5’6” and 100 lbs.) on the world’s number-one-rated wooden roller coaster. But after more than 15 minutes of trying to talk him out of riding The Voyage, it became apparent that no one was going to stop him.

So we headed to the Voyage and got in line. I could hear the buzz about Papaw building as he made his way closer to the front. ("Wow, look over there!" "Is he really going to ride?"). The way the lines worked out, Papaw boarded The Voyage with his son-in-law in the train that departed before me. As I watched from the station, I couldn't help but think we’d made a grave mistake as I watched the train ascending the gigantic lift hill.

The lone little white head of hair seemed ominously out of place among the other riders. We watched nervously as the train reached the peak and disappeared over the other side. I know that the ride takes about 3 minutes – but it seemed like about 3 hours. From the station, we could hear the train approaching as it was getting ready to make a high-speed pass back past the station. We watched closely, hoping to see how Papaw was doing. As the train flew past and we could see dozens of riders smiling/screaming with their hands raised above their heads—and among them was one rider whose head was lowered and whose face wasn't visible — all that could be seen of him was a little white head of hair.

This was obviously a huge mistake.

Papaw rides The VoyageAfter what seemed like an eternity, the train finally made it back to the station. All of the riders quickly departed from the train, leaving Papaw sitting there looking dazed and bewildered. His son-in-law and a few ride attendants helped him out of the car, and held him up for a minute as he was clearly not able to stand under his own power.

The station was quiet and tense. Was he going to be okay? After a short while, someone who was attended to him asked if he was okay, and Papaw gave a little smile and a nod and immediately the entire station erupted into the loudest round of applause I've ever heard. I overheard a teenager near me say, "I hope I still rock like him when I'm that old!" The whole scene was just unbelievable.

Of course we had to buy the ride picture to remember the experience. The only thing whiter than Papaw’s white head of hair in the picture were his white knuckles. I've always heard that expression, but this is the first time that I truly understood it.

We tried to buy Papaw an "I conquered the Voyage" t-shirt, but they only had Large sizes in stock (Papaw is most definitely a "Small"). So my wife and I are going to keep an eye out for some new inventory of shirts to come in before the season's over. But in the meantime we bought him all the Voyage postcards so that he could do a little bragging about what he did on his trip down to Southern Indiana.

At the end of the day, Papaw was a bit exhausted and overwhelmed from the experience, but was perfectly fine. He did go home shortly after riding and spent the next couple days recuperating. I’m not sure if he is the oldest person ever to ride The Voyage, but his journey was certainly a memorable experience for everyone who was there.

Sorry for such a long story, but I though you might enjoy it. We really enjoy the luxury of having such a wonderful park right here in our backyard and really appreciate the great job that everyone at the park does.

So … is Papaw the record holder, or does anyone know of a Voyage rider who's been around even a tad longer?

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3 Responses to “Papaw’s Voyage”

  1. Kevin Klosowski

    Thank you so much for sharing this story on your blog. This is a great family memory at Holiday World that will be cherished for many years to come. Papaw (Claud Bivins) always lived life to the fullest and this story is a perfect example of that. On 1/29/14, Papaw made his final voyage, passing from this world to a better place. Rest in peace, Papaw… we’ll see you at the end of the ride.

    • Paula

      Our condolences to you and your family, Kevin. We’re so glad you have such a wonderful memory together here at the park. Rest in peace, Papaw.

  2. Amy Busler

    What an awesome story as I am still hanging onto my spunky grandpa at 87 years old. They made them tough back then. Lol… Making memories is what life is all about!