Rye smiles say it all

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Zamperla
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Rye smiles say it all

Postby Zamperla » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:35 pm

Rye smiles say it all: a fair way to go became the family tradition
Carolyn Webb, January 12, 2012, The Age

IT'S January, and the Rye carnival is in full swing. The name on the banner along Point Nepean Road says ''Wittingslow''.

The late Tom Wittingslow founded the Rye carnival in the mid-1950s as a rival to the nearby Rosebud carnival.

And now his grandson Michael, with his wife, Manya, and two of their four children are running the 2012 Rye and Rosebud carnivals.


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Father and son: Morgan and Michael Wittingslow at one of the fun rides on the Rye foreshore.


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Jessica, Michael, Des, Morgan and Tom in the mid-1990s. Photo: Pat Scala

It continues a showman dynasty that began in 1932 when Tom Wittingslow started a ''guess your weight'' stall at a Bourke Street penny arcade.

Tom, who later was a prisoner of war in Changi during World War II, was no quitter. He had the motto ''keep smiling''. Michael says he would be proud the family is still in the game.

In the late 1990s Wittingslow managed and co-managed Moomba for six years, having run the rides there for more than 40 years.

The company dominated the Royal Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane shows and a slew of country and suburban fairs. The movable operation of 55 rides was ''the biggest carnival in the southern hemisphere'', Michael says.

But in the mid-1990s a deal to run Sydney's Luna Park fell through when residents complained about noise. Tom died, aged 86, in 2000. A year later, Tom's son, Des, died when his car was hit by a train at Burnley.

Des' son, Des jnr, left to co-own Splashdown, the portable toilet company that inspired the film Kenny. After a failed venture running carnivals in Hong Kong and China, Michael cut his losses, and moved the business to Rye.

But things are looking up again, with Wittingslow operating rides at a calendar full of fetes and festivals around the state.

The next one is at the Hastings Festival in February.

As a sideline, they run sand sculpting events in Frankston and in Windsor, New South Wales, taking it next month to Surfers Paradise. The family now live in a beautiful Mornington Peninsula house.

Michael's children are all in their 20s, and to his delight the youngest, Morgan, 20, is keen to keep the Wittingslow name at carnivals.

Morgan, who supervises the Break Dance ride at the Rye carnival, says he loves the diversity of it - from mechanics to dealing with the public. His earliest memory is, as a four-year-old, riding a beetle in the Lady Bug ride, which seemed impossibly fast and thrilling.

At 13, in school holidays, he would take tickets and let kids onto the Jumping Castle.

Working at the carnival was a teenager's dream. ''Easy work, and I got to surf all day,'' he says. He got paid and ''saved up for clothes, toys and surfboards''. He says as a career it would mean an endless chance for new places to take the business and be creative.

''It's the only place I seem to fit in,'' he says. ''I know what I'm doing, know what's going on.''

He says in the internet age, carnivals are not over for young people. ''I think carnivals will always be there. It's just the classic family place to go. Kids will always want to go on rides. You get over looking at the net.

''At the carnival you can get out and see your mates and go on the rides with them. A lot of people just hang out down there.''

Rye carnival is open nightly from 6pm until January 29, with that day's proceeds going to charity.

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HUSSRAINBOW
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Re: Rye smiles say it all

Postby HUSSRAINBOW » Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:16 am

Great article. Good to see Wittingslow slowly building back up a well deserved reputation.
Although someone should mention to Morgan that the Break Dance is well and truly rooted and needs a total overhaul!
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Top Gunner14
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Re: Rye smiles say it all

Postby Top Gunner14 » Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:26 pm

Definately a great article good to see they are still around considering all the hardships that have gone on over the last 10 years. Never knew they managed the sand sculpturing events either. That's been going for the last few weeks out here, not that it interests me in anyway but never thought they'd be doing something like that

Josh in Rocky
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Re: Rye smiles say it all

Postby Josh in Rocky » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:28 pm

Good read... :)
"Slingshot , Engage"

tziolasamusements
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Re: Rye smiles say it all

Postby tziolasamusements » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:46 pm


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HUSSRAINBOW
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Re: Rye smiles say it all

Postby HUSSRAINBOW » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:49 am

tell him to fix the motors!!
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