"I've been waiting all year for this day!" Eight-year-old Nancy Drew was standing at the entrance to Big Thrills Fun Fair.
"Wouldn't it be cool if Big Thrills was open even in the winter?" Bess Marvin asked.
"Sure," George Fayne said. "If you're a polar bear."
"Then the roller coaster would be a polar coaster," Nancy said with a giggle.
Bess and George were cousins. They were also Nancy's two best friends.
They were all together for the most exciting Saturday of the year. It was the day that Big Thrills opened for the season.
"I still can't believe Jessie is getting us passes to get in free for the whole week," Nancy said.
"Seven days of total fun!" George said. She pointed two thumbs up.
Jessie Shapiro was in the same third-grade class as Nancy, Bess, and George. Her mother worked at Big Thrills. Mrs. Shapiro was able to get passes for Jessie and her friends.
"Guess what?" Jessie called as she ran over from the ticket window. "My mom is getting the passes right now."
"Super!" Nancy cried. She brushed her reddish blond bangs from her eyes.
"Why aren't you giving a pass to Rebecca Ramirez, Jessie?" Bess asked. "Isn't she your best friend?"
"Rebecca was my best friend -- until last Sunday," Jessie said. "That's when she took Amara Shane on a family picnic instead of me."
"Did you talk to Rebecca about it?" Nancy asked Jessie.
"I don't ever want to speak to Rebecca again," Jessie said.
"Well," Nancy said, "it's too bad you two had a fight."
"Yeah," George said. "But I'm sure glad you picked us for the free tickets."
Nancy stood on her toes and tried to peek over the Big Thrills gate. "I can't wait to see Coconut," she said.
Bess wrinkled her nose. "Who?"
"Coconut the Peekaboo Chimp," Nancy explained. "He sneaks up behind kids, puts his hands over their eyes, and says -- "
"Peekaboo!" Jessie laughed.
"Eeeww!" Bess said. "He probably has hairy knuckles and banana breath."
Just then Mrs. Shapiro walked over to the girls. She waved four pieces of paper in her hand. "Here they are," she announced.
"Way to go, Mom!" Jessie cried as her mother handed out the passes.
"Thank you," Nancy, Bess, and George said almost at the same time.
Nancy held her pass carefully. She loved the way it looked. It was pink with an orange border. The border matched the lining of her red jacket. On the pass were printed the words "Saturday to Saturday."
The girls waved their passes proudly as they followed Mrs. Shapiro through the front gate of Big Thrills.
"Awesome!" Nancy gasped once they were inside. "It looks even better than last year."
Everywhere Nancy and her friends looked there were rides. High in the sky was a Ferris wheel with colorful butterfly chairs. Another ride looked like a pirate ship rocking on a giant wave.
"Remember, girls," Mrs. Shapiro said. "The passes cannot be replaced. So take good care of them."
"We will, Mom," Jessie promised.
"Good," Mrs. Shapiro said. She checked her watch. "We'll all meet right here at this spot in two hours. I'll drive everyone home." Then she hurried away to her job at the Big Thrills office.
"Let's put our passes in a safe place," Nancy suggested.
"Good idea," Jessie said. She slipped her pass inside her red waist-pack.
"My jacket has huge pockets," Nancy told Bess and George. "I can hold your passes with mine."
"Okay," Bess said as she handed her pass to Nancy.
Nancy slipped the three passes into the right-hand pocket of her jacket.
"Button the flap on your pocket," George said.
"This isn't a real flap," Nancy said. "It's just for decoration." She patted her jacket pocket. "But the passes are safe in here. "
"Guard them with your life," George said.
"She will," Bess said with a laugh. "Detectives don't lose things. They find things."
Nancy smiled. Everyone knew she was the best detective at Carl Sandburg Elementary School. She had a blue detective notebook in which she wrote down all her clues.
"Okay, gang," Jessie said. "Which ride should we go on first?"
Bess jumped up and down. "How about the Doodle Duck? It has rubber duck boats that float on water."
"Rubber ducks? It sounds like a giant bathtub," George said.
"How about the carousel?" Nancy asked.
Before her friends could answer, Nancy heard a loud rumbling sound.
Uh-oh, Nancy thought. That rumble could only mean one thing.
"The Rambling Rosie!" Jessie cried.
The Rambling Rosie was the fastest ride at Big Thrills. It was the biggest roller coaster for miles around. And it was Nancy's least favorite ride.
A line was already forming when the four friends reached the entrance to the ride.
"Oh, great," Bess said. She pointed to a wooden sign. It read, "You must be as tall as this sign to go on this ride."
George shrugged her shoulders. "You're still too short, Bess."
"But I grew a whole inch since last year," Bess said.
"I'll keep you company, Bess," Nancy told her. "I'm not going on, either."
"Why not, Nancy?" George asked. "Last year the Rambling Rosie was great."
"Yeah," Jessie said. "It even flipped upside down."
Nancy made a face. "So did my stomach," she said.
George grinned. "You probably felt sick because of all the cotton candy we ate right before the ride. Remember?"
"Maybe next year," Nancy said.
"Okay," Jessie said. "Let's all meet at the carousel in half an hour."
Nancy watched George and Jessie run for the line.
"Who needs the Rambling Rosie, anyway?" Bess said. She adjusted her pink scrunchie. "It would just mess up our hair."
"I have an idea," Nancy said. "Let's buy some taffy from Tony's Taffy Stand."
Tony was at Big Thrills every summer. He made taffy in many different flavors.
"I wonder what new flavors Tony has this year," Bess said.
Nancy began to giggle. "How about...pepperoni pizza?"
"Pepperoni pizza? Yuck-o!" Bess cried. "That would make me sick."
Tony's Taffy Stand was right next to the bobsled ride. Bess bought a small bag of strawberry-flavored taffy. Nancy chose banana.
Nancy ate a piece of taffy. Then she put the bag in her right-hand pocket.
"I'd better go easy on the candy," Nancy said. "I don't want to get sick again."
Nancy and Bess walked through the fair. They saw a large crowd standing in front of a stage.
"I wonder what's going on," Bess said.
Just then a man wearing a silver cape burst out from behind a red velvet curtain.
"It's Marv the Marvelous Magician," Nancy said. "He's here every summer."
"Mmmph," Bess said. She was still chewing her taffy. "Iwikemarphawot."
"For my next trick, I'll need an assistant from the audience," Marv said.
Nancy's hand shot up. Then she heard someone shout, "Out of my way!"
A boy with black hair pushed his way in front of Nancy.
"Orson Wong!" Nancy said. Orson was in their class.
"Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! Pick me! Please! " he called.
Orson was shouting so loudly that Nancy covered her ears. "Oh, well." Nancy sighed. "Maybe Orson should get picked. He does want to be a magician when he grows up."
"If he ever grows up," Bess said.
Marv pointed to Orson. "There's a kid who loves magic. Step right up, young man."
"Cool!" Orson cried. He pushed his way through the crowd. Marv helped him jump up onto the stage.
"Should we watch Orson help Marv?" Nancy asked Bess. "Or do you want to ride on the carousel?"
Orson made a goofy-looking face at the crowd.
Nancy and Bess looked at each other. "The carousel!" they said together.
On their way to the carousel, Bess grabbed Nancy's arm.
"Nancy, look," Bess whispered. "It's the creepy House of Screams."
Nancy shivered. "Check out the broken shutters and all the cobwebs."
"I wouldn't go in there if you did my homework for a year," Bess said.
"It can't really be haunted," Nancy said. "Can it?"
Bess began to whisper. "I heard that a werewolf lives inside. All year 'round!"
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