Santa's Village GM Celebrates 50 Years in the Amusement Industry
EAST DUNDEE, Ill. (July 16, 2012) – Santa’s Village AZoosment Park is proud to celebrate general manager Don Holliman’s 50thyear in the amusement industry. Holliman began his career at Adventureland amusement park in 1962 in Addison, Ill. He then moved to Santa’s Village when it was purchased by the owners of Adventureland in 1966. Since then, he has worked for every owner of the park. Indeed, much of his life has centered around Santa’s Village. A true family affair, the East Dundee resident’s wife and son have also worked at the park over the years. In fact, his wife, Susan was the ice skating director for the former Polar Dome Ice Arena.
“I have fond memories of my early years in the industry,” said Holliman. “I remember that my first job in the park was as a ride operator for the Bumblebee ride. And, over the years it has been great working with my wife and son. I guess you could say it runs in the family.”
Holliman left Santa’s Village in 2003 to work in the sales arena and the park closed in 2006. However, he was soon drawn back into the amusement industry after receiving a call from current owners of Santa’s Village, Jason and Amy Sierpien and Scott Goodman, regarding plans to reopen the park in the spring of 2010. Today the park is in full swing in its second season, operating under the moniker of Santa’s Village Azoosment Park, with Holliman at the helm.
“I was sad when the park closed, but I wanted to be a part of Jason and Amy [Sierpien]’s plan to reopen. I was drawn by their excellent attitude, where making it a positive guest experience is the number one factor,” says Holliman.
“When I was staffing for the opening of the new park, Don’s name was one that kept coming up time and again when I would ask people to make recommendations for the general manager position,” says Jason Sierpien. “After meeting him, I knew he was the right one. His vast knowledge and love of the park, coupled with his keen attention to detail was the right fit.”
How the Industry Has Changed
How has the industry changed since Holliman began his tenure? According to Holliman, many of the amusement industry’s changes mirror the changes that society as a whole has gone through in the past half century. “It’s a lot more safety conscious than it was 50 years ago,” he says. “Additionally, the way that amusement parks market themselves is drastically different. Social media has become an integral part of the advertising mix.”
While some things change, 50 years later, it’s the simple nostalgia and human condition that Holliman loves most about his job. “The best part is just dealing with people. That’s why I’ve worked in this industry for 50 years,” he says. “I started when I was 16 and I never grew up.”
Holliman holds a bachelor of science from Southern Illinois University ‘s School of Business with a double major in administration and financial management. He recently completed the Certified Pension Trustee Program from Northern Illinois University in April 2012. Active in industry and community organizations, Holliman currently sits on the board of trustees for the East Dundee Police Pension Board and is an active member of the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions.
About Santa’s Village AZoosment Park
Located in East Dundee, Ill., Santa’s Village AZoosment Park offers parents, grandparents, park districts, day camps and family or group picnics an affordable summer-time destination that features a variety of activities for children ages 2 to 12. From animal attractions, a popular petting zoo and amusement park rides, to more than 50 games with redemption area and a picnic grove, there is something for everyone. The park also boasts a food area that offers a full menu of both kid and adult friendly options. For more information: visit http://www.santasvillagedundee.com.
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