They couldn't stop laughing.
Giggling wildly, my self-proclaimed "almost 9-year-old" daughter Cienna twisted through the air, fervently trying to keep her black ballet flats on her narrow feet.
Wind from the amusement park ride she waited in line for made golden trees rustle, as their arched limbs shook autumn leaves to the ground.
I waited near the ride's exit with her younger brothers, who were too short for The Claw at Hersheypark, taking in my favorite sounds and smells of fall.
Smiling, I watched the Claw -- which looks as its name describes -- as it spun passengers both vertically and horizontally at quick speeds.
"Mom, that was the best ride ever. If I could play Quidditch, I bet it would be like that," said Cienna, who was dressed like a wizard.
Magical: I don't know that I'd agree The Claw was much like the fictional sport in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, but I appreciated that it inspired magic.
Ty found his own magic in the Frontier Flyers -- a ride that allows passengers to simulate flying. Dressed in costume as Captain America, my 5-year-old son gleefully pretended to be a pilot, laughing loudly as he steered his plane.
My youngest son, Dimitri, a 3-year-old with a big personality, seemed to find the most joy in a classic.
Dressed as Mario, of Super Mario Bros. fame, he climbed upon the carousel horse that seemed most appropriate to his untrained eye.
The usual carousel music, which is often a throwback to a storybook Americana, was replaced with a jovial rendition of the "Ghostbusters" theme song.
Standing next to him as a spotter, I noticed the ride seemed to move faster than any carousel I had ever ridden. It was either amped up for Halloween, or maybe I'm just getting old and growing more sensitive to things like speed and colder weather. (Let's go with it was amped up for Halloween.)
Dimitri wasn't sensitive to anything. He giggled and laughed
For all of the fun and deliciousness offered up during Hersheypark in the Dark's opening weekend for the 2012 season, what I held onto the most was the sound of my children's laugher.
A class by itself: Hersheypark is in its own class. It's clean, well designed, family-friendly, offers a plethora of dining options and truly offers an enjoyable experience for all ages. I've visited several amusement parks across the country -- both as a child and a parent -- and Hersheypark is a new favorite.
The special charm of Hersheypark in the Dark lies in the perfect balance of tricks and treats. With more than 50 rides -- 10 of which are roller coasters -- entertainment and chocolate funnel cake made with Hershey's best, what's not to like?
Hersheypark in the Dark continues during the next two weekends, held from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays, 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.
We had so much fun, we're going again.
Because, for all the changes in life, there's still no such thing as laughing too much.
-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.