More than 100 were in attendance March 14-16 for the 109th Anniversary Education Conference & Annual Meeting of NEAAPA, the Northeast’ Entertainment Association, at the Hilton Mystic here.
The highlight of the three-day event was the induction of industry icons James Patten III and the late Haig Gulezian into the NEAAPA Hall of Fame at the Tuesday gala dinner and business meeting.
Patten had a storied career in the amusement park business at Salisbury Beach, Mass. He also served on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) and chaired the organization’s safety committee.
In 1970 he helped to introduce the vendor showcase at NEAAPA’s annual meeting, which continues to this day. Following his retirement, Patten and his wife moved to Florida.
Gulezian entered the industry in the 1950s by constructing Haig’s Miniature Golf in Methuen, Mass. In 1979 he purchased land in Nashua, N.H. and built Fun World, an indoor entertainment complex with the latest video games. The business later expanded with outdoor go-karts, indoor bumper cars and even indoor mini golf.
More rides were added indoors during the late 1990s and Haig’s legacy continues today as Fun World is operated by his daughter, Sandra Gulezian-Manougian, and grandson, Peter Manougian.
NEAAPA President Dave Oberlander and Awards Committee Chairman John Guertin also presented the following awards during the dinner:
President’s Award: Charlene Conway, Carousel Family Fun Centers, Fairhaven, Mass.,, for serving as the organization’s treasurer for numerous years.
Meritorious Service Award: Ron Patalano, operations director at Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, R.I.
Alan E. Ramsay Safety Award: Rui DeSilva, maintenance supervisor, Quassy Amusement & Waterpark, Middlebury, Conn.
Paragon Award for Marketing Excellence: Greg Banecker. Gateway Ticketing Systems, Gilbertsville, Pa.
Pinnacle Award for Guest Service Excellence: Emma Krushinski, Quassy Amusement & Waterpark.
“She’s a tireless advocate for our industry and resolute in carrying out the duties as treasurer,” Oberlander said of selecting Conway for the President’s Award.
In reference to Patalano receiving the service award, Oberlander noted: “Ron was honored for making great progress in spearheading value for our membership and our guests, and for his volunteerism.”
Keynote speaker at the dinner was Ryan Stana, chief executive officer at RWS Entertainment Group, JRA & Binder Casting in New York. He touched on the history of RWS and how it has grown into a world-renown entertainment organization over the past two decades.
Michael Shelton, IAAPA’s director of education, safety, and membership, provided an update on public affairs outreach by both NEAAPA and IAAPA.
Years Of Membership
The following NEAAPA organizations were also recognized for membership milestones:
90 Years: Lake Compounce Theme Park, Bristol, Conn.
20 Years: Carousel Family Fun Center
15 Years: Intermark Ride Group, Nashville, Tenn.; RWS Entertainment Group
10 Years: Amusement Associates, Lynbrook, N.Y.; Aquaboggan Waterpark, Saco, Maine; Morningside – A Kitty Hawk Kites Flight Park. Charlestown, N.H.; S&S Worldwide, Logan, Utah; Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, Essex, Conn.
The 2022 NEAAPA officers slate is as follows: President Dave Oberlander, Centerplate, Mashpee, Mass.; Vice President Chris Nicoli, Canobie Lake Park, Salem, N.H.; Treasurer Charlene Conway and Secretary Ed Hodgdon, Hodgdon Consulting, Scarborough, Maine.
Reception And More
The NEAAPA conference kicked off on Monday, March 14, with an evening reception at Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, Conn.
Several workshops were held throughout the day Tuesday at the hotel as well as a noon lunch and board of directors meeting.
More than a dozen suppliers took part in the 5 p.m. vendor showcase followed by a cocktail reception and the dinner and business meeting, in which 110 attended.
The president’s breakfast on Wednesday closed out the event.
Sponsors of the conference were:
Gold: Dippin’ Dots, Paducah, Ky.; Naughton Insurance, Providence, R.I.; Premier Rides, Inc., Baltimore, Md.; RWS Entertainment Group and S&S Worldwide.
Tuesday Night Dinner: McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance, St. Petersburg, Fla. and Ralph S. Alberts Co., Inc., Montoursville, Pa.
Tuesday Night Reception: Sally Dark Rides, Jacksonville, Fla.
Afternoon Break: NXT Capture, Orlando, Fla. and Zamperla Inc., Boonton, N.J.
Morning Registration: Amusement Today, Arlington, Texas, and Carousel Family Fun Center
Badge Sponsor: North American Amusements, Weymouth, Mass.
“The 109th Educational Conference and Annual Meeting was a great success and that I’d like to thank everyone for their support, contributions and participation,” Oberlander said.
NEAAPA’s 109th Anniversary Summer Meeting will be on July 25 & 26, at Roger Williams Park Zoo, Seekonk Grand Prix, Seekonk, Mass., and Rhode Island Novelty, Fall River, Mass. The gathering will also include a golf tournament at a location to be determined.