Windy City Amusements makes work fun
By Paul Sullivan For The Courier-News June 7, 2012 4:12PM
From left, Mark Salerno, Manager of Windy City Amusements and Robert Coote, company electrician, checking the entrance to the Fun House.
If you go
RiverFest continues today through Sunday in St. Charles
The carnival venue is off Route 31 west of the Fox River. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
There is a wristband special from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today: $20 per person.
On the Web: www.PrideoftheFox.com
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:05AM
Tuesday morning, a crew of 30 employees of Windy City Amusements began setting up the company’s carnival rides for the St. Charles RiverFest. Workers moved trucks hauling carnival rides into assigned spots in the empty St. Charles Municipal Parking lot one block north of West Main Street and Route 31.
The crew unloaded, unfolded and assembled colorful rides such as Zero Gravity and The Zipper, two of the carnival’s most popular rides. Three men anchored support beams behind the flashing lights of Himalaya. Motors whirred. Ride parts slid into place. A man swore at a stuck piece of façade. A few workers appeared idle, perhaps waiting for their work to arrive from Gilberts, where the carnival had been the week before.
Windy City Amusements manager Mark Salerno on Tuesday directed traffic and managed his crew by walking around. Setting up a carnival takes time, he said. “We started here at 11 and won’t be finished until about 10 tonight. Tomorrow, we set up the Ferris wheel across the street.”
Salerno is the son of the founders of Windy City, Geneva residents Ruth and Tony Salerno, who started the company in 1977. “Dad bought a little carnival,” said Salerno. “My first job as a kid was picking up nickels — at the nickel toss, you know.” Mark’s brothers Tony Jr. and Michael are also involved in the company.
During its six-month season, Windy City’s two carnivals travel to fairs and events within 50 miles of its St. Charles headquarters. “Some companies have really big productions that run six months in the North and six months in the South,” said Salerno. “In our six months off, we store our equipment in Aurora, clean it and do maintenance. Six months on, six months off.”
Salerno, who seems to enjoy working in the carnival industry, said, “This is a fun local event. Like Disneyland for kids, except you don’t have to go to Orlando.”