WAYNE COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia’s only amusement park has reopened for the season after a partial shutdown last year.
Camden Park ride manager Shawn Wellman says COVID-19 forced the park into a partial shutdown and saw very sparse crowds.
Spring school excursions were canceled and the park’s opening day was pushed back into July.
On Saturday, however, kids and their families were making up for the lost time.
One such kid was 9-year-old Maxwell, who along with his older brother and cousins was celebrating his birthday all over again after having to forgo a celebration during the pandemic.
“I was like, almost crying in tears about that,” said Maxwell.
Camden Park has long been the only amusement park in West Virginia, it’s also very old.
The park blends the old with the new with a wooden merry-go-round and a big dipper roller coaster from the 1950s.
There’s also Camden the clown, the park’s original mascot from a bygone era who still smiles on West Virginia families 118 years since the park opened in 1903.
“We’re open, that’s what’s exciting,” says Wellman when asked what’s new this year.
“We are sanitizing the rides after each run, we don’t require them to wear masks but they are of course welcome to and any building they go into we’re having customers wear masks,” he said.
Outside they’ve relaxed the rules for mask-wearing, and most people on Saturday were not wearing one.
This year, says Wellman, the challenge will be finding enough employees.
Since the park reopened earlier this May, Wellman says the crowds have been great — what they’ve really struggled with is hiring people.
And if Saturday’s lines are any indication, it’s going to be a busy summer.
“Thank goodness people are really wanting to get back out and have some fun,” said Wellman.