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25 April 2005 - 3:32pm
Oh, my gosh -- it just hit me! How does time pass so quickly from year to year?
There's never enough time to get ready.
And now, all of a sudden, we're down to single digits!
Just eight months till Christmas! (Faked you out, didn't I?)
It's so much fun to be out at the Front Gate during the season, to see the look on our Guests' faces as they enter the Christmas section. All of a sudden, there's Christmas music! Some folks look shocked, but then start laughing. Others immediately start singing along. Still others don't notice; they're too busy checking to make sure they didn't already misplace their car keys.
And then there's the Santa statue. How many families crowd around Santa for a family portrait each summer? It's really sweet to watch. Sometimes we get to play photographer after offering step in and snap the photo so that the entire family is in the shot.
He's all spiffed up and ready for opening day:
One of my favorite stories from over the years involves the Santa statue.
A young family was walking into the Christmas Plaza. Mom, Dad, and a little girl. She was four, tops, and cute as a button.
Daddy pointed out the Santa statue, "Look, honey, there he is! You've been waiting and waiting to see him! Who is it?"
The little dumpling turned to see. Her face suddenly broke into gleeful recognition. She let out a joyous squeal and ran toward the statue as fast as her chubby little legs could take her.
Who is it, honey?
22 April 2005 - 3:32pm
...and the park is bustling with preparation!
Our hardworking crews from Grounds and Cleaning are scrubbing every inch of the park, removing the winter grime.
And the rides are coming out of hibernation, complete with a fresh coat of paint.
A contractor sees to it Splashin' Safari will "rock" with Beach Boys music this summer.
Chris, our Director of Entertainment, works on the set for the new American Country show.
And the foods folks pay close attention to their training:
Look at that picture-perfect funnel cake!
More training this weekend as we all get ready to open our 59th season!
22 April 2005 - 1:21pm
Important Notice to all new Hosts and Hostesses: It really helps to "break in" your spiffy new white sneaks before the first day of work.
Now, that doesn't mean to drag them through a mud puddle the way my older brothers did as we trudged to Sacred Heart Elementary on the first day of school each year. I mean wear them for a while, walk in them, stand in them. Wiggle your toes. Adjust the laces. You'll be glad you did.
Years ago, Holiday World's “uniform room” was located right outside of my office. A few of those years, we bought hundreds and hundreds of pairs of shoes so our employees didn’t have to go shopping somewhere else for their uniform shoes. We were their sole provider.
All those tennis shoes … well, they stunk! Not a stinky-feet odor, thank goodness, but the rubber, or whatever it is on the soles of the shoes, created an interesting work environment.
Usually there was someone on hand to help outfit the new folks. But once in a while, some poor little newbie would wander cautiously into my office and whisper, “Do you have this in a size 7 narrow?”
Comfortable shoes are very important for park workers. We warn everyone at the Job Fairs that most of our positions require a lot of standing. Broken-in shoes help ease that transition as your entire body adjusts to being vertical for hours at a time.
Rachel and I took a HoliBlog photo walk through the park the other day. We made sure no one was watching and she snapped a shot of one of my new sneakers:
Can you tell the size of someone's shoes from a photo like this? Well, in the interest of fair disclosure, I'll tell you. I wear an 8½.
No big deal, right? Nothing to be ashamed of, certainly. Probably downright average.
Long ago, at a former job, my boss decided at the last minute to fly several of our staffers to Los Angeles to attend a huge food show. We all worked for Pizza Today magazine, which originated here in Santa Claus, Indiana (the pizza capital of the world, hadn't you heard?).
Normally, I'm not a girlie-girl like-let's-go-shopping-okay? type. But when the others asked me along, what the heck.
After picking out nice outfits which we hoped would make us look a little less like "country girls" (remember how Nellie used to sneer at Laura and Mary?) we headed over to the shoe store.
We were chatting happily, heading down the aisle toward new footwear. All of a sudden, I realized I was alone. Where did everyone else go? Hrrumph! Over in the aisle for Size 5 and Size 6. Good grief, I'd never noticed these women had such tiny appendages. How did they manage to balance themselves in even a gentle breeze?
I survived their teasing that evening, but never did find a suitable pair of clown shoes for my freakishly large feet.
Two days later, we checked into our hotel in Little Tokyo. It was a bit of a cab ride from the convention center, but we were lucky to find rooms at all.
Imagine my delight when I saw there was a shoe store right across the street. Surely in L.A. they would have some stylish shoes for me. I dropped off my luggage and headed over for a look. Only window shopping, as the store was closed for the evening, but it would reopen about 30 minutes before we were scheduled to leave in the morning. And there, in the window, was just what I wanted.
After a lovely stroll through Little Tokyo and a good night's sleep, I was ready to go. I waited patiently outside the shop's door while the owner hustled down the sidewalk to greet his first customer of the day.
"Good morning, sir! Am I ever glad to see you! Those navy blue pumps in the front window are exactly what I need. If I could just slip into a size 8½ I'll pay you and be on my way."
The store owner glanced up at me with a look of momentary confusion. A split second later, I had my answer:
"No, no, no! Nothing that big! Too big! Too big! Maybe four, maybe five -- that's all. Nothing so big!"
This is a family blog, so I won't tell you my usual closing line to this story.
Suffice to say, the food show was a great experience. And despite tromping around all day in a huge convention center, my tootsies remained fairly happy in my not-quite-new, purchased-in-Indiana, comfortable, broken-in shoes.
21 April 2005 - 3:17pm
Will Koch does not like to cut down trees.
Let me rephrase that: Will Koch does not like to cut down tree.
It’s against his nature. He wants as much shade as possible in the park. And the beauty of the old hardwoods is part of his family’s heritage. He’s the third generation to run this lovely playground and he doesn’t want to be the one to mess it up.
The popular “S curve” at the bottom of the last drop on The Raven actually came about because Will didn’t want to lose any more precious trees. The initial design skimmed along the edge of the forest, creating the need to cut down an entire row.
“Can’t we zig-zag it into the woods and save some trees?” he asked.
They made it work.
Whenever we do have to take out a tree, I think about that wonderful old Keep America Beautiful ad. Remember it? The one with the Native American sadly looking out over the polluted, trashed river? With that single tear slowly sliding down his weathered face.
I picture Will that same way.
Well, when I saw this on my way to work this morning, I felt compelled to run by the store to pick up a box of those man-sized tissues for Will:
What’s going on? Who would do this? Does Will know about this?
To give you a bit of perspective, gentle readers, I risked life and limb and stood along Highway 162 to take this photo from up near Holidog’s FunTown:
I can’t tell exactly where on the property the trees originated. It’s certainly not a clear-cut operation, as the forested area beyond Splashin' Safari is still there.
It looks as if the trees have been removed very precisely. One by one. As few as possible. Making room for … could be just about anything!
Well, whatever it is, it’s big.
20 April 2005 - 4:05pm
A friend from Massachusetts emailed me this morning to tell me about his young daughter.
Ella just turned six and is a darling little girl. As the mother of three sons (no daughters) and the sister to three brothers, I do have an affinity for stories about daughters.
They watched one of the Harry Potter movies the other night and now Ella wrestles with "bad thoughts" as she tries to go to sleep at night.
Her daddy used the age-old "let's think about something else" trick. He cleverly turned her throughts to their upcoming trip to Holiday World. They've not been here before, so they couldn't rely on memories but instead turned to their imaginations to dream up ideas about what might be here.
One of Ella's ideas was, "There should be big snowflakes that you swing back and forth on!" She was on the right track, happily drifting toward dreamland.
This all screeched to a halt when she remembered we also have a Halloween section.
The Halloween holiday can be scary.
My mom always loved the creepy side of Halloween; she used to take my brothers and me on nightly "Witch Walks" each October. At dusk we'd skulk about our neighborhood, telling ghost stories. We'd dash from lightpost to behind trees to keep the "witch" from catching us. My brothers reveled in the thrill. Scared me half to death. So, I'm with you, Ella!
And to quell your fears a bit, take a look here at HallowSwings, which we added a few years ago.
When our graphic artist and our marketing department were working on the graphic design for this ride, Mrs. Koch brought up an interesting question: "Will the design be scary-scary or friendly-scary? I don't think we should terrify the smaller children."
The resulting design makes me laugh every time I walk by HallowSwings ...
Don't worry, Ella. At Holiday World, even the skulls are happy!