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Lure of midway draws job hopefuls

Sunday News Correspondent

April 08. 2012 1:39AM

SALEM - Long lines and smiling faces filled Canobie Lake Park on Saturday, but the crowds weren't there for the rides.

About a thousand people showed up for the first job fair of the season. A second job fair will take place in mid-May.

'Virtually every department of the park is represented, with literally hundreds of positions,' said Chris Nicoli, marketing and entertainment manager.

Nice weather and students home for the Easter holiday contributed to the large turnout, Nicoli said. Inclement weather seems to have plagued prior years, he said. The park will open on April 28.

Future ride and game attendants, cashiers, Emergency Medical Services personnel, security officers, food service workers, ride mechanics, custodians and others arrived at the park at 10 a.m.

After filling out an application, well-dressed candidates waited in line for up to two hours before speaking with personnel representatives and moving on the interview room.

The job-seekers varied in age and motivation. Nicoli said he was pleased with the applicant pool.

'What we're looking for is just excellent personalities and people with great guest service skills,' he said.

While efficient, Nicoli admits the application process can be slow. The wait didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the applicants.

Atul Sheth of Windham is a patron of the park and thought it would make an excellent place to work.

'It's primarily the atmosphere here,' Sheth said. 'A lot of people come, and they have a good experience when they visit the park.'

Elizabeth Richard of Hampstead waited in line for about two hours. She visited the park often as a child and was excited about the possibility of working there.

'I think it would be a fun summer job close to home,' Richard said.

Jack Vandagriff spent two seasons with the park, working at the gate and in guest services. It's a change of pace from his full-time job as a ninth-grade English teacher in Lynn, Mass., he said.

'I just wanted to keep off the streets for the summer,' Vandagriff said.

Daniel Smith, of Methuen, Mass., was applying for positions in security or landscaping. 'I need to support my daughter,' he said.

In addition to new talent, the park has a good percentage of returning employees. Some people have worked at the park for 20 or 30 seasons, Nicoli said.

'Once you get in, you end up loving it,' Nicoli said.

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