MIDDLEBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Local amusement parks were banking on this Memorial Day weekend to help them emerge from the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on their business. But, the wet and cold weather this weekend ended up being another punch to their profits.
It has been a rollercoaster toughing out the pandemic for George Frantzis, the owner of Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury. The park has been in his family for 113 years. They were forced to stay closed through most of last year due to the pandemic, and now that Gov. Ned Lamont has loosened COVID restrictions, they are welcoming guests back.
“To tell you that the last two years have been the most challenging would probably be an understatement,” Frantzis told News 8.
News 8’s LaSalle Blanks asked him if there was ever a thought of shutting the park down for good?
“That question’s a scary one in the big picture because you start looking at your mortality and how vulnerable we can be. And so yeah it was scary going into last year,” he responded.
They had hoped this Memorial Day weekend would be the beginning of their “light at the end of the tunnel” after the pandemic, but rain shut down the park Saturday and Sunday. Once again, not thrilling for the bottom line.
“I was extremely optimistic about the Memorial Day weekend,” Frantzis explained. “I think between the phone calls we’ve been getting and the weather we’ve been having it’s been unseasonably warm for the spring, we were excited. We thought we were gonna have a really strong three-day weekend.”
The threat of rain kept their water park and beach closed Monday, too, and their parking lot was not as full as it normally is on Memorial Day.
“This is kind of like your first day of summer and to be in winter attire is a bit disheartening.”
But if there’s good news, it’s on the faces of little ones and families starting to trickle back in.
Waterbury Mom Bianca Torres told News 8 of her young daughter at the park Monday, “I’m trying to give her the childhood that I didn’t really have.”
Frantzis wouldn’t comment on specific financial losses due to the pandemic, but they are looking forward to the post-pandemic future.
“It’s not about getting knocked down. It’s how you pick yourself back up,” Franzis said.