It is a fam­ily

The work­ers at Thomas Amuse­ments are in it to­gether

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - Nicholas Mercer Nicholas Mercer is the on­line edi­tor with The West­ern Star. He lives in Cor­ner Brook and can be reached at [email protected]­ern­

The calls start com­ing in early May. Peo­ple from var­i­ous parts of the prov­ince start pick­ing up their phone and start di­al­ing the of­fices for Thomas Amuse­ments. They’re look­ing for work and the chance to travel the prov­ince.

The calls start com­ing in early May.

Peo­ple from var­i­ous parts of the prov­ince start pick­ing up their phone and start di­al­ing the of­fices for Thomas Amuse­ments.

They’re look­ing for work and the chance to travel the prov­ince.

From the end of May un­til the end of Septem­ber, these trav­ellers tra­verse the is­land with their car­a­van of games, rides and food trucks while mak­ing stops in 14 dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties from coast to coast.

Over those four months, the group falls into a rou­tine of wak­ing up, check­ing their rides and wel­com­ing ea­ger car­ni­val go­ers.

They laugh and ar­gue as any group would, but they stick to­gether.

“It re­ally is like a fam­ily,” said Cor­ner Brook’s Lyn­don West dur­ing the car­ni­val’s re­cent stop in Cor­ner Brook. Thomas Amuse­ment’s has a two-week stay in the west coast city.

West started with the group in 1989 when they parked their rides in the park­ing lot of the old Hum­ber Gardens.

At the men­tion of the ven­er­a­ble arena, the corners of West’s eyes turn up­wards slightly as if re­mem­ber­ing a fond mem­ory of the place.

He was 23 at the time and had a house in Cor­ner Brook at the time when his friend asked him if he’d like to go to work.

The now 52-year-old West said yes and he’s spent the ma­jor­ity of the last 30 years travers­ing the high­ways. He’s been with the group now for 24 years in to­tal.

He took some time off to do other things.

Fun­nily enough, West didn’t have much in­ter­est in the fair prior to start­ing on the bumper cars as his first as­sign­ment.

It has been mostly rides from there on out.

In Con­cep­tion Bay North, we al­ways called Thomas Amuse­ments the fair. It ran at the same time as the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion Fall Fair at the old S.W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace, which prob­a­bly had some­thing to do with it.

The fair was the hottest ticket in town when­ever it hit the gravel park­ing lot in front of the sta­dium.

It was the place you went on a Satur­day af­ter­noon with your friends or on Fri­day night with that girl you were sweet on.

As well, there was the chance you could see a few scuf­fles on the other side of the sta­dium be­hind the Tilt-A-Whirl when up the bay clashed with down the bay.

I was never a ride guy. I’d al­ways grav­i­tate to­wards the games and try my best to win the wa­ter gun horse race or pop a bal­loon with a dart.

I did get on a ride once. It was a dis­as­ter.

Against my bet­ter judge­ment, I got on The Zip­per with a buddy of mine. For those of you who don’t know, it has rolling cages that move up and down on a ver­ti­cal base.

It is ba­si­cally a death trap for those with a weak stom­ach.

It’d be fine he said, it was just like do­ing som­er­saults in the pool.

It was noth­ing like that. Not even close.

From the first spin, I knew it was a bad idea. There were times we end up stuck up­side down and others we just made a quick spin.

I kept it to­gether for the 5 min­utes you’re on the ride, but I’ve been told I was green af­ter­wards.

You meet a lot of peo­ple when you’re with the car­ni­val. There’s al­ways fa­mil­iar and new faces to see and new yarns to spin with the lo­cals.

They come to call some of them friends and catch up ev­ery time they hit town again.

West started his ten­ure in Stephenvil­le which, ac­cord­ing to a cou­ple of peo­ple with Thomas Amuse­ments, has a strong in­ter­est in the car­ni­val.

In fact, you might say they have a sick­ness and the only cure is Thomas Amuse­ments.

The peo­ple of Stephenvil­le are known to line up for hours be­fore it opens and con­sis­tently fill the place to ca­pac­ity.

“When we open there, some­times there’s no one and you turn around and there’s 200 peo­ple,” said West over the hum of a nearby ride.

For last two months, the weather on the west coast has teetered on ex­cru­ci­at­ing — for me any­way — and that in­cludes this week as the fair has been in Cor­ner Brook.

West and his co­horts have had to deal with that.

It’s not only that. There are times when the work­ers are there in rain, fog and the cold.

They put up, main­tain and tear down rides in that.

It’s not easy and that’s just how West likes it.


Un­der the watch­ful eye of Lyn­don West, the Tor­nado swings into full ac­tion dur­ing Aug. 23 at the Cor­ner Brook Civic Cen­tre.

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