summer, The Laff In The Dark staff had the great pleasure and
privilege to present our first Laff Achievement Award. Formally
titled the Leon S. Cassidy Achievement and Preservation Award,
it is named in honor of Leon Cassidy, who invented and patented
the single-rail dark ride and founded the Pretzel Amusement Ride
Co. in 1928.
We could imagine no more appropriate
recipient for our first presentation than Leon Cassidy's son,
William F. Cassidy. In his teen years, Mr. Cassidy started working
in the company with his father and assumed full control of Pretzel
after World War II, operating it until his retirement in 1979.
In the course of his career, Mr.
Cassidy was involved in the installation of over a thousand Pretzel
rides during the golden age of amusement parks in America. An
immensely popular ride, it became almost as common as merry-go-rounds
and ferris wheels, and Pretzels were found in virtually all traditional
parks across the nation.
During our visit, Mr. Cassidy graciously
entertained us with dozens of fascinating stories of his experiences
in the Pretzel Company which he recalled as clearly as if they
had happened last week. A true living legend of the amusement
business, he has literally seen it all, and over the years has
been acquainted with the biggest names in the industry, from the
Tilyous of Coney Island and the Rosenthals of Palisades Park,
to countless other owners and operators from the heyday of American
A lively 88 years young with a great
sense of humor, Bill Cassidy was once his town's chief of police
while operating Pretzel. Even today, he finds time to serve as
the town building inspector, as well as participating in his church
choir, and spending time with his children and grandchildren and
golfing with his many friends.
We at Laff In The Dark feel most
fortunate and proud to be able to recognize this genuinely fine
gentleman for the inestimable pleasure he and his rides have given
us and millions of others. Even though he made history and has
been a true giant of the amusement industry, Mr. Bill Cassidy
always wrapped up his reminiscences with the sentiment: "I
just wanted people to have fun".
'The Godfather of Dark Rides' with the first Laff Achievement
and the first 'Pretzel Company' T-Shirt.
Left to right: George LaCross, Bret Malone, Bill Cassidy, Bill