It was decades ago, but Lucas McFadden remembers it like yesterday. He was nine years old, it was Christmas day and he was on a scavenger hunt.
“My parents said there was something on the tree for me and my brother, but we had to find it," McFadden said. "We scoured that tree and when we finally found the gift I got so excited – it was Carowinds season passes! A few minutes later it occurred to me that it was Christmas and Carowinds wouldn’t be open for months. The countdown began.”
McFadden, anchor/producer of the Emmy Award-winning CN2 news team, said trips to Carowinds are a highlight of his memories growing up in Fort Lawn, a small town in Chester County, S.C.
Lucas and his daughter, Collins
He remembers the first time he went upside down on a coaster, the Carolina Cyclone. “It was in middle school. I was so nervous, and didn’t want to try it but my cousins said if I didn’t promise to go on it they wouldn’t take me to Carowinds. So of course I said I’d do it,” he explained. “After that ride I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to go on again. I've been a coaster lover since then.”
McFadden visited the park regularly through high school, as often as three times a week. “It was the thing to do!” he said. “I have so many vivid memories from Carowinds – ride openings, blue ice cream from Gargamel’s Shack, the ferry, the monorail…”
Carowinds fun took a back seat for a while during college, marriage and his transition into the career world. But McFadden is once again a season pass holder - times three. He and his wife Kati, also a Carowinds fan, welcomed daughter Collins six years ago and couldn’t wait to start enjoying the park with their little girl.
“I still remember bringing her to the season pass processing center for the first time when she was three – it brought me right back to when I was a kid there with my parents,” McFadden said.
Collins looks forward to Sundays, as the McFaddens often come to Carowinds right after church. Some of her favorite rides are Woodstock Express, Camp Snoopy Balloon Race and Do-Si-Do. She recently added Kiddy Hawk to that list, and that’s often her answer when Dad asks her to choose one more ride at the end of a visit.
Lucas and his Collins enjoy a ride on Camp Snoopy Balloon Race.
“She has her eye on Intimidator,” McFadden said with a look of pride. “She can’t wait until she’s tall enough – and neither can I!”