1959 Ferris wheel to be 'retired' from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

It's the end of an era at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The park is "retiring" their iconic Ferris wheel, which has been a fixture of the park since 1959. 

It is the Eli Bridge Company's Number 16 Ferris wheel, AKA "the Aristocrat."

And for park enthusiast Nicholas Laschkewitsch, it was an important part of his childhood.

Laschkewitsch says, "Riding it with the sun setting and the lights glowing and the giant dipper roaring in the background, you know it was a wonderful ride to get a view."

It was the site of countless dates, marriage proposals and even one high profile balancing stunt by acrobat Nik Wallenda.

And now, that Ferris wheel is being retired.

Kris Reyes, of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk says, "It's really not a safety issue. It's more an on-going maintenance issue for the ride. It's about changing the offering that we have."

Park officials say people weren't lining up for the Ferris wheel like they used to. Still it was a difficult decision to make.

Reyes says, "Especially for the Ferris wheel because the Ferris wheel is such an iconic part of the seaside amusement park experience."

As for what will replace it, nothing right away.
But the boardwalk is considering another Ferris wheel, perhaps one that is bigger and flashier.

Still fans like Laschkewitsch say nothing could possibly replace his memories of it, like that Wallenda high wire act.

He says, "That was just an amazing thing to watch that. And very scary! But one of my best memories of the boardwalk was that. So it's had a great life. And 60 years for any ride is like amazing.

He adds, "I'm excited for whatever they decided to do for that spot in the future."

Over the next few weeks, the boardwalk will dismantle what's left of the Ferris wheel. no word on how long it might take to find a suitable replacement. 

A few park-goers are lamenting the fact that they didn't get one final ride on the Ferris wheel.
But park officials are considering whether they might sell some of the ride's seats in the future.