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Festival Season is Coming: Are Carnival Rides Safe?

With 18 injured Sunday on the swing ride at the Norwalk Oyster Festival, it's a question that many parents are asking themselves today. What do you think?

Flying swings at the Norwalk Oyster Festival on Sept. 7, 2013. (Credit: Leslie Yager)
Flying swings at the Norwalk Oyster Festival on Sept. 7, 2013. (Credit: Leslie Yager)
A parent's nightmare became reality Sunday when a ride malfunction at the Norwalk Oyster Festival left more than a dozen children injured.

Fortunately, none of the kids were seriously hurt, but will the accident make you think twice about putting your kids on a ride at the next carnival?


In Berlin, where we are just a month away from the annual Berlin Fair, and neighboring Southington, which has the Apple Harvest Festival is quickly approaching, officials are already double-checking with ride providers to make sure insurance is in place, checks are done and there will be no issues.

Statistics have shown great strides in ride safety in recent years, with legslation and safety inspections providing further proof that children and families are not at risk.

According to the International Association of Amusements Parks and Attractions' 2011 Fixed-Site Amusement Ride Injury Survey:

  • Approximately 297 million guests visit the 400 U.S. amusement parks annually and take 1.7 billion safe rides.
  • The chance of being seriously injured on a ride at a fixed-site park in the U.S. is 1 in 24 million.
  • 61 of the 1,415 ride-related injuries, or less than 5 percent, required some form of overnight treatment at a hospital.

Comparatively, the IAAPA reports, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that the number of deaths on America's roadways in 2011 was 32,367.

It's important to note that the statistics above from the IAAPA are for fixed-site parks like a Six Flags, for instance, and the Oyster Festival is an annual event with rides that are brought in just for the weekend. Furthermore, reports indicate that the swing ride, called the Zumur, did pass an inspection prior to the start of the festival.

While the cause remains under investigation, early indications are that it was the result of mechanical malfunction; that resulted in the swings, and their riders, crashing into each other.

The rides at the Oyster Festival were brought in by Trumbull-based Stewart Amusement, which has been providing entertainment at area events since 1983. In a message on its website, the company states, "Rides are inspected daily by our own trained personnel, weekly by state and local inspectors, and annually by professional engineers and insurance company inspectors." 

"Our first and only concern is for the well-being of those involved and their families," the company writes. "We are continuing to cooperate with authorities as they investigate into the root cause of the accident."

In light of the accident, will you think twice about putting your kid on a ride at the next carnival?

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