On previous Valentine's Days, we've spotlighted couples who fell in love at Kennywood. This year, we're sharing a story not about falling in love at Kennywood, but with Kennywood. This comes courtesy of Bill Priatko, one of the most tenured Team Members at the park.
Bill Priatko, right, with fellow Kennywood Team Member John Inglis at the 2016 Alumni Picnic
"I have been coming to Kennywood since I was a 6 year-old student at Brinton Avenue Elementary School in North Braddock. All of the students would traditionally wear white clothes, the boys wore white pants and white shirts and the girls wore white dresses. It was a thrill to board the street cars that took all of the students to Kennywood. The street cars pulled up at the big iron gates at the entrance of the park. I can still hear the joyful screams of fellow students as they ran in to the Park with great anticipation of having a wonderful day. "I fell in love with Kennywood Park at that time in my life. I wanted to do more than just enjoy Kennywood every year. I wanted to work there (https://www.kennywood.com/employment) to further my love for Kennywood Park.
At the age of 15, as a student at Scott High School, I was hired to work in the refreshment stand across from the Jack Rabbit. I loved making popcorn and seeing the smiles on the faces of our customers when they bought a box of crackerjack. My refreshment boss was a fine man, Bob Henninger. I did this for three years during high school. I then went to the University of Pittsburgh and for two years, I worked in the paid parking lot behind Noah's Ark. I just loved talking to the people who came through our lot. It was a labor of love while working in the parking lot to look over and see the swarms of happy bathers enjoying the Park swimming pool.
Kennywood's Sunlite Pool in the 1940s
"There was a sense of nostalgic pride to hear the announcer's voice from the Park bandstand at 11:00 each night when he proudly said to a nationwide radio audience over Station WCAE in Pittsburgh, 'Emanating from beautiful Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the music of Harry James and his orchestra.' How could this not permeate a love for Kennywood Park?! At the Park closing each night, the sounds of 'Now Is The Hour' will ring in the depths of my heart, forever. That Park closing song accentuates my long-lasting love for Kennywood Park. "Fifteen years ago, when Kennywood beckoned for summertime help, I was grateful that my love for Kennywood could continue, as I put on my green Kennywood Park refreshment shirt at the Park's Carousel refreshment stand. My joys have continued the past four years at the Parkside Cafe's drink fountain. I simply love greeting and saying a warm hello to the smiling customers that frequent our stand. I look forward to doing the same this summer and returning to be with my Kennywood Team Members who I love working with. Ironically, my refreshment boss is Mike Henninger. I am honored to say that my work days at Kennywood are shared with multiple generations of the Henninger family.
"I have been with Kennywood Park for 80 years. It is a true, grateful, everlasting love."
Thank you, Bill! You are a treasure not only for Kennywood, but the countless lives you've touched in your work throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. We are grateful for you. Happy Valentine's Day!
"I fell in love with Kennywood Park at that time in my life. I wanted to do more than just enjoy Kennywood every year. I wanted to work there to further my love for Kennywood Park." "I have been with Kennywood Park for 80 years. It is a true, grateful, everlasting love."
Want to be like Bill? Whether you're at the start or end of your professional life, you're welcome in the Kennywood family! Head to our Employment page and apply today.
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