Ron Gazzola was ten years old when he was finally tall enough to ride Playlands iconic wooden Dragon Coaster rollercoaster. It was 1962. Years later, he was performing maintenance on it.
I still walk over to Playland every day and chat with the guys in the workshop, said Gazzola, 60, who retired at 51.
Gazzola started working part-time as a ride operator at Playland while in high school. It was a common summer job for young people in Rye. After graduating, Gazzola was offered full-time employment.
All the big companies were hiring students back then, like IBM. Everyone was going to them for jobs. They (Playland) had to find a way to attract workers.
Gazzola was happy to take a job in his hometown, and since Playland was owned and operated by Westechester County, it offered full health coverage and a state pension.
For 40 years, when the park was open in the summer, Gazzola would get up before dawn to inspect the rides. During the off-season, he would clean and repair all the rides.
The park is only open for three months, he said. But it takes nine months to get it ready.
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