An outsider might wonder why a man in his 30s still makes a big celebration of his birthday, as I did last month and many of my adulthood Novembers. Truth is, every birthday is a noble, though ultimately futile attempt to top childhood birthday parties at the Razz-Ma-Tazz in Sayreville, NJ (search for it on the Internet and you will find seemingly endless references to it being an inferior Chuck E. Cheese's, but I consider Chuck E. Cheese's to be an inferior Razz-Ma-Tazz) and the impossibly awesome, old-timey-themed Farrell's at the Staten Island Mall, where your birthday was marked by sirens, the banging of a bass drum, and a restaurant-wide rendition of "Happy Birthday." I'm almost certain I had more than one birthday party there, but the one I remember most was the one where my friends dared Terry Walsh to drink everybody's soda, which he did, before heartily vomiting in the men's room while my mom's friend tended to him. If I have to explain why such a thing would be looked back upon as fun, you need to spend more time contemplating your childhood. Or else you're Terry Walsh and carry a grudge.
Farrell's was, in short, the coolest place ever, and the Staten Island Mall has yet to recover from its closure over two decades ago after the entire chain (save for two remaining Farrell's in California and Hawaii) packed up the boaters and vests and called it a day. If that Farrell's was still around, I can guarantee you that I would still be celebrating birthdays there. But, like many things from my childhood, it's gone and, I imagine, largely forgotten.
So, it was with great joy that, after an eBay search for Farrell's memorabilia, I happened upon The Farrell's Zone, a salute to all things Farrell's that delves into the chain's history and looks at the surviving Farrell's restaurants (next trip to California includes a stop in Santa Clarita). And, to my great happiness, there is a partial video clip of a birthday celebration. I would have preferred more sirens, but it'll do.
All praise and glory (and a couple of bangs on the old bass drum) to Roger Baker at The Farrell's Zone for posting the videos. He is my new hero.