Tim's Turn | Snapshots of Joy
This is a happy, true tale of an Ohio-born boy who usually has success at trying to stay happy and positive and is at the age where memories are everything.
A wise man once wrote the book, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” I think it should be required reading during these woebegone days of the pandemic. Actually, I’m feeling pretty positive about life in general, but, of course, I don’t own a business, have not lost a job, or been evicted from my home or apartment. More importantly, I have had no loved one affected by the virus. Many are not so lucky, and my heart truly goes out to them.
I have not been bored a single day for nearly a year. I have so much to do and so much to write. What quarantine has given me is the time and freedom to stay at home and continue to organize and weed out my massive archives on parks, attractions, roadside attractions, carnivals, fairs, and sideshows.
However, “cleaning” out a file isn’t as easy as it appears to be. Looking at photos, reading old press releases, or seeing the name of someone I know in the industry usually takes me down a rabbit hole. Who needs to watch cat videos when they have a file cabinet full of happy memories?
As I was sorting through photos, I ran across one of Fred Rogers, whom I met and photographed at an IAAPA event at Kennywood in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. He was there because Kennywood’s sister park, Idlewild & SoakZone, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, had created a unique trolley ride in the park and themed it as “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe.” Another photo taken that evening was of John Collins, which got me started thinking of my friend John.
I was chair of the IAAPA Hall of Fame Committee in 2011, the year John Collins was inducted, and I had the honor of presenting him with the award. As we chatted after the ceremony, the always-gracious Welshman with an endearing laugh and smile reminded me of the IAAPA Summer Meeting in 2002 at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, when I sat him down at a lakeside picnic table for lunch and an interview. What it entailed was something we both laugh about today.
I had the tape recorder running, and he was dutifully answering a question when a seagull landed on our table, nonchalantly walked over to his plate, picked up a french fry, turned around, and flew away. John and I looked at each other in disbelief, laughed, took a drink of our beer, and carried on with our conversation. Recalling we were drinking beer on what is remembered as “The Day of the Seagull” brought back more happy memories.
We gathered at the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, and it was quite an event. We got to see a lot of great ride equipment and meet some great German showmen. I got a lot of fun photos of our industry leaders having a great, stress-free fun time that week. My camera was passed around one night and Mats Wedin, retired president and CEO of the Liseberg Group in Gothenburg, Sweden, and IAAPA Hall of Fame inductee, took some of the best photos of the event, including the one shown with this column.
And those memories lead to more memories that lead to more wonderful thoughts of this amazing industry in which we work. Yep, quarantines aren’t all that boring when you have baskets full of memories to keep you company.
Tim O’Brien is a veteran outdoor entertainment journalist and is a longtime Funworld contributor. He has authored many books chronicling the industry’s attractions and personalities and is the only journalist in the IAAPA Hall of Fame.