Last 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 amusement parks.
     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".
Presenting 'The Godfather of Dark Rides' with the first Laff Achievement Award
and the first 'Pretzel Company' T-Shirt.
Left to right: George LaCross, Bret Malone, Bill Cassidy, Bill Luca
 
We hope to bring you a new article continuing the saga of the Pretzel Ride Co. in the near future with many more fascinating stories and facts shared with us by Mr. Cassidy about the first and greatest dark ride company of them all. If you haven't read it yet, please check our first Pretzel story for some basic history.
 
The Leon S. Cassidy Achievement and Preservation Award is presented by the Dark Ride and Funhouse Historical Society to individuals or businesses who have made notable contributions to the world of traditional dark ride and funhouse amusements, as well as those who have played an important role in preserving existing historically significant rides for future generations to enjoy.




The Laff Achievement Award features a one-twelfth scale replica of the classic Pretzel ridecar, and was created by Laff In The Dark 
art director Bill Luca.