CEDAR PLAINS, PA—After years of delays and mounting criticism from voters and political pundits, President Barack Obama finally followed through on a campaign promise he made in 2008 to spend one night alone in the abandoned Cedar Plains Family Fun amusement park, sources confirmed Wednesday.
At approximately 6 p.m. last night, members of the press reportedly looked on as Obama—carrying only a flashlight, a water bottle, and a backpack full of snacks—scaled the 9-foot-high chain-link fence and entered the derelict theme park, making good on a vow that had been a central component of his initial run for the White House.
“Eight years ago, I made an oath that if I were elected president, I would spend dusk till dawn in this old, run-down amusement park, and tonight I am fulfilling my obligation to the American people,” said Obama, who had been widely accused of favoring other legislative priorities above an overnight stay inside the dilapidated regional attraction that shut its doors in 2003. “Between now and sunrise, I will climb to the top of the Ripsaw roller coaster, I will throw a rock through the window of the snow cone stand, and just as I’ve said time and time again, I will wander around in the big concrete track where the Lazy River used to be.”
“And to prove that I do not take your support for granted, I will also walk through the Hall of Mirrors at midnight,” Obama added.
Since first raising the issue during the 2008 primaries, Obama’s promise to spend at least 12 hours unaccompanied within the overgrown park grounds has been a focal point of his domestic policy. Throughout the general election, his repeated vows to climb down into the basin under the Gopher’s Gulch log flume and spend 10 minutes inside one of the rusted cars on the Ferris wheel became fixtures of his stump speeches and TV ads, characterizing the young Illinois senator as the only candidate willing to brave the eerily barren park in the dead of night.
However, with the pledge still unfulfilled after Obama’s first 100 days in office, activists began protesting outside the White House regularly, demanding to know when the president would finally put on a thick coat, walk across the property’s cracked parking lot to the padlocked gates, and implement his much-discussed plan to stroll down Cedar Plains’ debris-strewn midway under the light of a full moon.
“At a time of great strife when Americans were looking for something to rally around, Obama united the country by swearing that one of his top goals would be to crawl under the wooden barricades and investigate the park’s old food court,” said political analyst Mark Halperin, noting that Obama built momentum around his candidacy and attracted sizable political donations whenever he mentioned the possibility of finding old funnel cake and cotton candy machines that had gone unused for years. “So perhaps it was inevitable that there would be backlash when Obama’s first two years elapsed without him providing even a basic outline of how he would break into the amusement park or a list of which of the decrepit rides he would see if he could turn back on.”
“Frankly, he got lucky when the bin Laden raid took everyone’s attention away, or else he may not have been reelected,” Halperin added.
In an effort to help secure his presidential legacy, Obama returned to his campaign pledge earlier this year, announcing to the nation during his State of the Union address that he had purchased a sleeping bag in anticipation of spending a night in the park, and later telling graduates in a speech at Howard University that before he left office, he would do everything in his power to take a picture from inside the Gravitron to show people what it looked like in there now.
“I was really impressed with Obama when he was first running because he seemed like the only candidate who actually had the will and the temperament to spend the whole night in a spooky boarded-up amusement park,” said Kansas City, MO resident Angie Hartney, noting that the then-senator’s claim was one of the primary reasons she supported him in 2008. “I still think he should’ve done this back in his first term, but after all the compromises and excuses—and it seeming like he’d never actually go down into the underground storage rooms where they supposedly keep some of the old bumper cars—it’s great to know he still has the power to inspire people.”
“That’s the Obama I voted for,” added Hartney.
At press time, the president’s approval rating had risen to an all-time high as an exhausted but triumphant Obama emerged from the park holding a tattered stuffed animal from the shuttered ring toss stand.