Walking from one department to another in many businesses entails little more than going across a room, down a hall, or riding the elevator up to another floor.
Here at Holiday World, I'm learning you have to go the distance to get from one co-worker’s "desk" to another.
There are three ways to get between our different offices and work spaces sprawled across 125 acres here at the park. You can hop in your car and spend half a minute driving to another area of the park, but that can feel just downright silly. If you happen to be one of the lucky ones with a golf cart, the trip is even easier and you can stay on grounds. (I'm finding you can usually stick out a thumb and hitch a ride from a coworker, too.) The third and final option is to go for a stroll, down one hill and up another to get from point A to point B.
Yesterday, I chose to go by foot. Depending on the route you take, it’s a good five to 10-minute trek. It’s a time to grab a bit of fresh air and enjoy this amazing spring weather, the blooming Bradford pear trees, and everything else that comes with it.
The symphony of preparations for the 2011 season is loud and clear. The beeping, creaking and grinding of heavy equipment rumbling around push dozens of park projects closer to completion.
I caught sight of several of our Coaster Maintenance Technicians, working high above the park, rhythmically driving new bolts into The Legend’s track. From a distance it sounded like a percussion competition with coaster techs going head to head with a woodpecker furiously tapping away in one of our stands of trees.
As I detoured for a closer look at what the racket was about, the coaster guys quickly questioned who was this strange man standing below them with a camera. Believe it or not, these guys aren’t regularly in the public spotlight, doing their most visible work during the hours we’re not open to the public.
“So who are you?” Bryan shouted 20-feet above me while drilling out a hole for a new bolt. I know I stick out like a sore thumb walking around the park, my dress slacks and polo shirt undeniably different from the Holiday World work uniforms.
I’m the new kid in class.
“I’m Nathan, the new guy working over in the PR department,” I hollered.
We shouted niceties back and forth, getting to know each other from a distance separated by wooden pilings, coaster track and safety nets.
“Well, I could use some extra hands up here,” Bryan laughed. “How about I just call over to Paula and let her know we’re going to put you to work up here on The Legend’s track for a little bit?”
“Give it a shot,” I tossed back, hoping my new boss wasn't ready to loan me out to a different department just yet.
Then another one of our Coaster Maintenance Technicians, James, arrived to help Bryan as they worked a new piece of side steel into The Legend’s track. I snapped some shots of them working high above the ground.
“We do require a $100 royalty for each photo and it can be payable by check,” joked James.
It’s good to see these guys still have a good sense of humor while they’re physically toiling away and getting downright filthy to keep our coasters in tip-top shape.
Next, I nearly stumbled over members of our Grounds Crew marching up one path and down another planting dozens of new trees, fertilizing the grass, and pressure-washing every square-inch of surface in the park. (I'm quickly learning we like to keep everything exceptionally clean around here!)
This is the time of the year that you can feel the excitement of Opening Day steadily headed in our direction. Whether it’s learning to use a fire extinguisher (see video below) or scrubbing every available surface, scores of employees are already hard at work inside the park.
Soon, rather than the sounds of tile saws and pressure washers, the air will be filled with squeals of joy and excitement as families make even more memories here as we begin our 65th season.