Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Carl O Hughes, 1921 – 2012

The man who made it his goal to make Kennywood, “the finest traditional amusement park anywhere” passed away at home on December 29. Born on July 18, 1921, Carl O Hughes was the retired CEO of the Pennsylvania park.

He died of heart failure aged 91, after a series of heart troubles in recent years. The husband of Anny (Coleman) Hughes, father of Mary Lou Rosemeyer and Lynn (Jim) Cauley, brother of Joanne Hunter, he is survived by eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Hughes was made manager of Kennywood in 1956 after his boss Carl Henniger died of a heart attack. At that time the property was considered just an average amusement park with average facilities. Hughes aspired to turn it into something more. A natural historian, he campaigned successfully for its inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places, making it the first amusement park to receive that distinction, in 1987.

“He was the man who truly created Kennywood,” highlights Harry Henninger, who retired as Kennywood’s CEO when the park was sold in to Palace Entertainment/Parques Reunidos in 2008. “He made it his mission to make it a much greater place, and he achieved it.”

“He really took Kennywood from just a little, kind of dirty. park into one that was envied by park owners around the world,” confirms Rosemeyer.

Hughes also played a pivotal part in transforming the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (formerly the National Association of Amusement Parks) into the professional international organisation and trade show organiser it exists as today. As the first living inductee to the IAAPA Hall of Fame, his nomination noted, “more than any other living individual, [he] is responsible for our organi­zation changing from a club to a sophisticated international organization for the pur­pose of universal communication and the exchange of ideas.”

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