Ivy Leaf - Fall 2010

A Wild Ride

By Marissa Carney


Patrick Quinn's father began his career at Kennywood Amusement Park thirty-nine years ago, parking cars in the lots. Now, dad is the park's director of community relations, and son Patrick was an intern in his office this past summer.

Quinn began working summers at the park in 2003. His first duty — somewhat more thrilling than parking cars — was operating the Sky Coaster, a giant swing that includes a fifty-foot free fall. He sold tickets for it, strapped people safely in the harness, and pulled the cable to the top of the launch tower. The next summer he worked in the maintenance department and the summer after in the communications department, dispatching electricians or mechanics to assess and fix problems around the park.

In 2006, Quinn came to Penn State Altoona and began studying business, with a marketing management emphasis. When it was time to choose a summer internship, it was no great surprise that his first choice was Kennywood. "I've grown up with this park," Quinn explains. "I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and Kennywood is a Pittsburgh institution. It's small, not a huge factory-type park. It's beautiful, and we really have that old-time traditional feel."

From ticket sales to straightening up around the park, Quinn's internship included doing a little bit of everything, which he enjoyed. But the whole experience soared to a higher level when the amusement park unveiled a new ride, the Sky Rocket, in June. With its zero to fifty miles-per-hour launch in three seconds, three inversions, and ninety-degree drop, the Sky Coaster is unlike any other ride at Kennywood. Quinn was able to gain first-hand public and media relations experience as the park worked to promote the new ride. He wrote news releases, created press passes, kits, and invitations for a media day, and answered general questions from media and special guests. He coordinated the on-ride point-of-view footage for the media and was something of a production assistant during a commercial shoot for the roller coaster. He led the first riders through the entrance queue and into the station. But even cooler? "I got to ride the new coaster before the public, even before our Media Day!"

By far, Quinn's favorite part of working at the park was interacting with the hundreds of thousands of people who visit each year. He loved to watch the children run around and giggle on the rides, and got a kick out of the older men and women who just sat on the benches taking it all in. "The atmosphere here is electrifying, and it energizes me to be here and let other people enjoy their summer. It's a job, but it doesn't feel like work."

After his December 2010 graduation, Quinn hopes to land a full-time job at Kennywood working in public relations, giving tours, marketing the park, and generating new business. Quinn looks to his father for his professional inspiration. "My dad's personal philosophy is 'leave the place better than the way you found it,'" states Quinn. "So I'll do whatever I can to make Kennywood a little bit better for the next people to come. If it's better off than when I started, then I have done my job."