The Water Park OGS of MP!
If there’s one thing we know about the water park industry – it’s tight knit!
“I LOVE reminiscing about the early days I worked at the water park,” says Denise Beckson, now Executive Vice President of Human Resources for Morey’s Piers. “I’m still friends with folks who worked there in the 80s and 90s.”
Denise acknowledges that this summer has presented numerous challenges for Morey’s Piers and says the company hasn’t faced staffing shortages this severe in a long time. “It is always a challenge to fill close to 1500 jobs each season,” she says. “And even with significantly increasing our local and regional hiring efforts this summer, we still fell extremely short.”
This year had us questioning, “How the heck are we going to make it to Labor Day with such huge staffing shortages?” It’s tough enough in good year, yet alone in a COVID year. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going!
Denise started at Raging Waters in August of 1985 when the park first opened (for a whopping two weeks) and would continue working there for thirty-three more seasons! [And she's pretty much held every position you can when it comes to water park operations.]
“I never felt like going to the water park was work - it was always fun,” Denise says. And that especially held true last week when she hung up her polo to don a tank top with the word GUARD on it.
Denise was just one of the many OGs that came crawling – ok, more like running – out of the woodwork to help staff the water park through Labor Day Weekend. Joining her was the legendary (well at least to us) Richard “RAC” Carroll. RAC worked at Raging Waters from 1986 – 1988 and although he is now the SVP and COO of Jeff Ellis & Associates (the world leader in Aquatic Safety), he managed to find some time to hop in the Shotgun Falls deep chair!
“Coming back each year to visit for me is like being supercharged and refreshed to keep my passion and dedication for our lifeguards and industry going.”
“Raging Waters and Morey’s Piers is like a second home to me,” says RAC. “Coming back each year to visit for me is like being supercharged and refreshed to keep my passion and dedication for our lifeguards and industry going.” RAC recalls a lot of fun memories from his Raging Waters days and if you have about 8 hours to spare, he’ll be happy to fill you in. [Note to self: If everyone around you is looking up - RUN! Because you are probably 2 seconds away from having a 5-gallon bucket of water dumped on you head.]
Then there is Maggie Wisniewski, Morey’s Marketing/PR Manager or ultimate matt stacker. You may recall from one of our previous blog posts, that Maggie was a 17-year-old kid from Northeast Philadelphia who landed a summer job lifeguarding at the water park back in 1998. And while lifeguarding back at the water park had her feeling extra old, it's just like riding a bike.
“I was home one night after work and Geoff (Morey’s Piers COO) texted to see if I could help out in the water park... as a lifeguard,” laughs Maggie. “How could I say no, that was one of the best jobs of my life!”
Guarding the Speed Slides after all these years had Maggie reminiscing. "If you've ever visited our water parks then you've seen the lifeguards bobbing their heads up and down," she says. "And no, they aren't robots. This head motion is called scanning and we've probably taught well over a thousand lifeguards this technique at this very pool."
When she wasn't bobbing her head up and down in the water park, you could also find Maggie working in a ticket booth or at the front gate on the piers - just one of the many departments our full time staff was helping out in this season.
"I felt like Clark Kent in the phone booth," jokes Maggie.
"During the last week of August, I felt like Clark Kent in the phone booth," jokes Maggie. "Except I would go in with a polo shirt and pair of khakis and come out with a pair of red shorts, a tank top, and rescue tube." TADA!
But it's also the teamwork and camaraderie that keeps employees coming back - even after they're long gone.
Ken Marsaglia, Head Football Athletic Trainer for Monmouth University, couldn’t agree more. “When Morey’s Piers put out an S.O.S asking alumni if they wanted to come back and help, I thought why not,” he says. “My schedule allowed me the opportunity and I always enjoyed my time working with friends in the water parks.” Ken worked at Raging Waters from 2010- 2014 and filled in this summer helping in supervisory and lifeguard role.
Ken could be seen lifeguarding the Serpentine Slides one minute and then diving for a pair of lost prescription glasses in the deep pool the next. It was like he never left the place.
And then there is Ione Laffey. Long time Wildwood Crest resident, retired Wildwood school teacher, and lifeguard instructor extraordinaire. Ione has spent 35 years training lifeguards and instructing CPR classes. Her passion for aquatics and water safety has been a huge asset to our community, especially considering that our little barrier island is surrounded by so much open water.
“I retired several years ago and got a text from Denise Beckson asking if I was available to help and I figured, why not," said Ione. "My ulterior motive was to check out the kiddie areas for my 3-year-old grandson, Jack. I can’t wait to bring him to visit next summer!"
JUST A FEW AMONG THE MANY!
Morey's Piers has always been a place of teamwork, camaraderie, and lasting friendships. This summer was a true testament that although tough times never last forever, strong relationships do!
And while the verdict is still out on which water slide is the best, they all agreed that it was the fun memories, the great people, and their love for Morey's Piers that made them want to come back and help.
Oh! And it beats a desk job any day of the week!