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29 October 2011 - 12:44pm
Warm, fuzzy moments happen around here all the time.
And when one of the men on staff tells the story, it's all the sweeter.
So when the new guy (Tony...our Director of Maintenance) emailed this to our staff of directors, it seemed a pity not to post it here:
When I was at the Bahari Snacks window today, a young man came up to the window with a receipt and some money. He waited patiently. When he got to the window, he said that his change was wrong. He got back $5 too much!
I asked him if he liked Icees. He said yes so I bought him one. He asked me why I was doing that and I told him that most people aren’t that honest and I thought that was pretty cool.
That boy made my day.
Tony's last name, by the way, is Perkins.
When it was announced at staff meeting months ago that our new maintenance director was Tony Perkins I immediately formulated a plan to remove his office door and replace it with a shower curtain for his first day at work.
The younger directors looked at me like I was some kind of psycho.
I guess they didn't catch the meaning of the "eee! eeee! eeee!" screeching sound I made either.
Do me this favor, won't you? The next time you're in our Halloween section and the theme from that movie comes on, whisper in a slightly macabre way: Oh, Tony...they're playing your song. (Originally posted 6/3/08)
(Added10/29/11) While blogging about how we named our Raven roller coaster back in 1994, this photo popped up in a Google search.
This is Edgar Allan Poe.
He wrote "Once upon a midnight dreary ... " and the rest of the incredible poem we know as The Raven.
Truth be told, Raven (the poem) was published 150 years before Raven (the coaster) debuted in our Halloween section.
Perhaps I'm a bit too hopped up on Halloween candy to make a fair judgment, but do you notice any similarity between these two dashing gentlemen?
28 October 2011 - 1:51pm
Back in 1994, it was such a thrill to take part in naming our first big roller coaster. We knew it was going to be built in our Halloween section, so there were nearly endless theming ideas.
It turned out to be a rather creepy experience.
The first shivery chill occurred on a very hot day.
Will had invited Tim O'Brien to visit during August of 1994 so he could walk the future coaster site with us. Tim was an editor with the now-defunct Amusement Business, so giving him an off-the-record tour and a peek at the design plans was pretty exciting.
Fun, too. Tim's love of the industry and affection for family-owned parks kept him grinning all day.
As we walked together down the paved path that used to be home of the Santa Claus Land "tour tram," Will pointed to our left and described in great detail the planned lifthill and first drop to Tim.
My mind wandered a bit as those two geeked out over angles of descent and rates of acceleration.
What in the world will we call this thing? I wondered to myself, grateful for the old-growth trees and the shade they offered.
My first thought - I swear - was "The Raven." Swooping through the thick woods, with a nod to Edgar Allan Poe's classic poem, The Raven would be a simple, memorable name.
I snapped out of my fog when I heard Tim ask Will, "Have you thought about names yet?"
"Not yet," he replied. "Any ideas?"
Without missing a beat, Tim offered: "The Raven. There's no other coaster with that name. It would be a great fit."
When Will headed back to his office to work on some of Tim's other suggestions (such as to have the track hug the ground at the bottom of the fifth drop - thanks, Tim!), I grabbed his arm. "Yes! I love the name Raven!"
Back in the mid-'90s, research was a bit more of a grueling process than it is today. I made a trip to the Lincoln Heritage Public Library in Dale (birthplace of Florence Henderson) to get to know Poe a bit more.
Interesting: Abraham Lincoln and Edgar Allan Poe were born just a week apart, in February of 1809.
Also of interest, Edgar shares a birthday with Will's wife, Lori.
Once settled in at the library, surrounded by stacks of research books, the air took on a sudden chill.
By the time I left the library, I was convinced we shouldn't dare to name our coaster anything but Raven.
Here's what I found:
- The poem "The Raven" was first published in 1845; our coaster by the same name would premiere 150 years later, in 1995.
- Ravens used to thrive in Indiana. The last sighting of ravens nesting in southern Indiana was in 1894. This was exactly 100 years before construction of The Raven began.
- The decision to name "The Raven" after the famous poem was exactly 145 years to the day following the death of Edgar Allan Poe.
On May 6, 1995, when we premiered The Raven, little Leah Koch (only five years old at the time) opted out of riding in the very first train at the last minute. As scores of coaster enthusiasts looked hungrily toward that empty seat and then pleadingly toward me, the decision regarding who would fill the empty seat was simple to make.
"This seat is for the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe."
As the train left the station, and climbed the lift hill for the first time ... clicking, clicking ... we all knew it would thrill riders ...
Tim O'Brien, who named Raven, is seated in the very back seat of this first train in the above photo (he's on the left, wearing sunglasses).
And below is the front of the train for Raven's First Flight on May 6, 1995. Holiday World's president Will Koch is in the front seat with Denise Dinn Larrick, the president of the ride's designer, Custom Coasters (which is no longer in business).
Take a look at the fourth seat from the front to see Mrs. Koch, whose riding partner was the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe.
27 October 2011 - 5:32pm
You might think that once the front gates close at the end of the season, we don’t see another Guest until the next summer.
Taking a walk through the (mostly) still and silent park will tell you a completely different story though.
During the off-season, we play host to Guests of a different kind.
Often they have four legs instead of two and are quite furry. Some even come with antlers or horns.
Sure, there are the usual rabbits and squirrels that seemingly appear out of every nook and cranny as soon as the human Guests exit. Wait just a few days more, though, and some much larger Guests begin to drop in.
Much to my surprise this morning, a golf car ride to the back of the park to photograph Mammoth construction put me smack dab in the middle of a herd of deer.
I was making quite a racket with my gas-powered car sputtering down one of our crunchy gravel service roads. Seeing a fall-leaves photo opportunity I just couldn’t pass up, I came to a stop to get some shots. After a couple clicks of the shutter, I heard some movement in the brambles on the other side of my car.
As I turned to look, I realized staring right back at me was a pair of big brown eyes and a little set of antlers.
Was this some kind of joke? Did we get a delivery of Wildebeest look-a-likes to stage around the World’s Longest Water Coaster and somebody set them in the woods as a prank? After a brief pause, locking eye to eye, my friend darted out of the brambles and up the hill toward the Wildebeest.
Nope, definitely not a mascot. Now I realized there were two of them; then two deer quickly doubled to four, and soon this small herd was trying to formulate an exit strategy to get away from me.
With their heads quickly turning left to right and back again it looked like there was an invisible tennis match going on behind me. Finally, my deer friends made their decision and dashed toward the Mammoth construction site.
They must have noticed the "Hard Hats Required" sign because they quickly side-stepped a parked forklift and pranced their way up the road before disappearing into the woods again.
It was fun coming face to face with today’s Guests. I only wish they would have stopped long enough for me to i nform them their long-lost relatives no longer lived at the park. - Nathan Ryder, Communications Manager
...Nathan's story about meeting up with these deer reminded me of a story Bill Koch told me long ago.
In the very first years of Santa Claus Land, the park added a Deer Farm. Much hullabaloo was made about the deer's upcoming arrival. Word came at the last minute that the deer would be a few days late; there was no time (this was long before websites, Facebook and Twitter) to advise visitors ahead of time.
Mr. Koch printed flyers that stated, "Oh, dear - No deer!" and handed them out at the entrance, inviting visitors to return on the day of their choice to view the deer free of charge.
The first deer to arrive were named Donner, Blitzen, Comet and Cupid. This was in 1948, when the park was just two years old. Eventually there were 14 European white fallow deer.
That's Mrs. Koch's dad, Santa Jim, in the photo. Did you know we have a Facebook page for Santa Jim? We also have a Santa Claus Land page and there's one for the Santa Claus Museum, too. We hope you enjoy these stories and photos as much as we do.
We hold them ... um ... near and deer to our hearts. - Paula Werne, Director of Communications
16 October 2011 - 5:43pm
During the season when the phone rings at home, I always assume it's "work" calling.
Even though it usually isn't.
In fact, in my 16 years here, I've caught myself almost answering the phone at home with, "Holiday World, this is Paula..."
That didn't happen last night, but still this conversation seemed to be natural fodder for the HoliBlog.
The phone rang at 9:23 pm...
"No. No Flo."
(At this point I started laughing) "... we sound like a Dr. Suess book!"
"Dr. Seuss ... you know ... the children's books."
"Doctor ... oh, never mind. I think you have the wrong number."
Originally posted 8/9/07