(The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has retired its Ferris wheel (left), which first opened at the park in 1959. Contributed photo)
SANTA CRUZ — After nearly 60 years, the Ferris wheel at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk will spin no more.
The park announced last week that it will be removing the ride, a Boardwalk mainstay since 1959.
Boardwalk spokesman Kris Reyes said the decision was made as the ride was undergoing its annual winter maintenance.
“After 60 years of dutiful service to the Boardwalk, we felt it was time to make a change with this particular Ferris wheel,” he said.
The nearly 70-foot-tall ride, manufactured by Jacksonville, Illinois-based Eli Bridge Company, has spun around four million riders since 1986, the first year the Boardwalk began tracking ridership. It was originally located near the Cocoanut Grove, where the Pirate Ship thrills riders today, before it was moved to its current location at the opposite end of the Boardwalk in the 1980s.
The Ferris wheel will be removed over the next few weeks, according to Reyes.
Park officials are currently researching a replacement ride, he said, with a new Ferris wheel at the top of the list.
“We feel strongly that a Ferris wheel is a perfect fit for the location,” Reyes said. “It’s an iconic piece for a seaside amusement park.”
Hundreds of people reacted when the Boardwalk made the announcement on its Facebook page, describing their favorite memories of the ride. Many also asked if the park would consider selling the seats, but Reyes said that is not currently in the plans.