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  • 6 years later...

If you haven't seen them yet, check out the great photos Al Bowen (mayor al) uploaded to our Employees - Security Department gallery this morning! Al was a security officer from 1974 to 1978 and you may recall seeing his nametags in our souvenirs area.


Welcome Al ! We are happy you joined us here. Now if you can confirm a question that has come up in the past... is HMFIC on your nametag what we think it is? :P

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I wasn"t sure I should mention the ebay episode.. but since it went to a good cause, I am glad it all turned out well.


Yes H M F I C TRANSLATES TO " HEAD MOTHER XXXXXX IN CHARGE". 40 years ago that was a rather unique title... today you can buy military patches with velcro backing for any style camo uniform.. times do change. Did you get the jacket from me? I have forgotten where it went?


I telephoned my greetings to the 40th reunion session going on as we speak in Lakewood. I hope to attend a future session. For those who knew me I was a teacher/administrator working two jobs to support a large family. After G A I took a college job in Indiana, and 25 years later retired as a Economics Instructor at a comm.college and sch. district in So California. We moved back to Indiana with my retirement and enjoy rural life very much., but we are just minutes from LOUISVILLE. Hope to post some more if I can find the photos. regards, al

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OK, Here's my Intro message from Page One of the Forums---



I will introduce myself here, but you'll find me hanging out in the Old Fart / SECURITY Employee sections most of the when I sign in.

I am "Mayor Al" or really AL BOWEN, I am a retired Economic Professor, who 40 years ago found a second job at a Security Officer at Great Advrenture, Just as the Park opened for it's first season in 1974. That proved to be a lucky move on my part as shortly after starting at GA, I was 'riffed' by my primary job. In addition to the normal Security functions I wrote training programs for the department and created the first POLICIES and PROCEDURES MANUAL for Ed Gadberry, the Director of Everything in Sight !! Those who knew Ed know why I gave him that title.

Another "Project" assigned to me was the coordination of training exercises with the Jackson P D and Our Security Dept. during the off-season. One in particular, day-long hostage exercise using the Western Fort Cable Car Tower (1977) as the hostage hiding place was a real challenge for all involved.

I have posted some photos and donated some relics from those early days. Last night...10/4/2014 there was a 40th reunion party in Lakewood. Many of the old guys were there. Some were not aware of this site. They are now.

In addition to my time at Great Adventure, my wife and I enjoy roadtripping a lot. linked to that is a love for G O O D BBQ, We travel often searching out good 'que' in out of the way places around the country. I am a MODERATOR on theROADFOOD.COM website where travel and good food are linked closely. Add to that being an avid hunter and firearms collector, and railfan of the Western railroads, and you begin to get a picture of what this old guy is all about.

If you haven't looked at the employee photo gallery..go find it and check out the Security Department album..the photo of Gibbs, Hatrat, Dinger, Rimakis, Joey D, and Dom, witn Joane is worth the price of admission. Then a shot of Lightfoot doing his Richard Pryor routine adds to it. Add comments, the section needs pepping up.

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Top Photo- That's Joe Demorato who was the Asst. Mgr of Security under Bob Richards and John Remakis, and sitting is Dominick Busscarleo (sp?) who was the Fire Dept Chief for the early years, before moving up in the organization after I left. I don't know the ladies.


Lower Photo- That is Security Officer Mike Cheung at the Radio Dispatcher desk in the Security Office.


I have one of the original "8-Code" Cards for radio transmission, if any of the old guys who had to deal with radio useage remember the '10-Code' problems, and how we solved them.



** NOTE- Both Joe D. and Mike Cheung Have passed away since those days in the 1970's. Both were good friends and excellent employees.

Edited by mayor al
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During the first season the Security Department had a few desks at the northeast end of the big Admin tent across the aisle from the Food Services people. To say it was chaotic is a vast understatment, especially at change of shift in the afternoons. The Radio Dispatcher had a very difficult job hearing all the units- plus monitoring the Operations Radio Net and making all the "Beeper" calls as needed to various ride mechanics etc. We had NO place to detain anyone- guest or employee for any reason.


At the end of the season they put a trailer out by the employee walk-in gate (Gate 2) on the west side of the Admin Tent and moved Security in there for a year. Early in 1976 they put together the modular building that was used for Security and First Aid next to the old front gate and butting up to the games buildings.

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I'll ask Hank Gibbs to take a look at that clip to identify the officer, I recognize him but can't recall the name.


That's the Great Adventure Gibbs, not the NCIS Gibbs !!!!

Edited by mayor al
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A couple of things have happened since I have made contact with the GA History Site... and I offer my thanks in advance for both.


I had several good friends at Great Adventure, and over the years we had lost contact. My making the connection with this website at the some time that a bunch of my former associates were getting ready for a 40th reunion celebration (last week) made it easy for me to be able to renew the communications with two of my friends.


Hopefully we can spread the word about the GA History site and get more active participation in the forums to preserve the folklore and legends that should not be lost.


Another Security Adventure-

The Hospitality Food Stand (Safari Entrance Area) had been suffering late night food losses, after closing hours, and before the morning crew began prep work for the day's operation. The stand closed with Safari at 6 PM and the crew was usually gone by 7:30 PM or so. We checked the locks on the bldg a couple of times a night, but otherwise the Safari Entrance area was pretty empty. After several break-ins Officer Mark Almendinger (RIP) volunteered to spend the night in the Foodstand to see if the thieves would return. Later that evening Mark heard someone working the locked door and called for assistance. the officers who joined him found him holding two employees from the late night cleanup crew who had been 'raiding the ice-box' for a late night snack for their friends'. " Another Serious Crime Solved" !!

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I posted this way over in a generic guest forum, but the old timers will remember the incident for sure....



Posted Today, 09:32 PM

Gotta go back a few years for this one (1977)...


A guest who had a bit too much to drink had boarded the "RUNAWAY MINE TRAIN". As the train proceeded around it's circuit, it swings thru a series of humps over the pond before tuning back to re-enter the station area. During the ride the drunk slipped out of the safety bar and attempted to stand a couple of times, failing twice. On this third try, as the train made a sharp "over the top and turn" on it's final appoach, The G-Forces took over and Mr Guest (Charles was his first name) did a fairly good 'one and a half ' looping dive into the mud and crud filled pond surrounding the Fort, and about 25 feet under the suspended rails of the now departed train. He received applause from guests surrounding the Fort while everyone waited for Security and Medical help to get him out of the pond. Other than some bruises and minor cuts his only injury was a broken right forearm.--God does protect fools and drunks !

But wait, there's more...


Part Two-

I had the duty-driver job that day so I drove Charlie up to Freehold Hospital in the G A Ambulance (No Lights or Siren for this trip !!) and an hour later brought him back to the park with his arm wrapped in a double-ace bandage. Management had decided, that since he had sobered up as a result of his experience and had been "sorry" for causing a problem, he would be allowed back in the Park.

I headed for the Best of the West to get some lunch, with Charlie tagging along as he said he was hungry also. As I got to the cashier at the B.O.W., she laughed and said to me, "Hey Al, Did you hear about the crazy S.O.B. who took a dive off the MINE TRAIN this morning?? I swear they're getting weirder everyday"" !! To which I immediately replied, " Hear about it?? Hell, I plucked him out of the Mud, fixed his arm, and now I'm gonna let him buy my lunch !! Say hello to our new High Diver- CHARLIE." " Charlie, This is Sue, She thinks you're a crazy S.O.B, and she is never wrong !! Now pay for lunch and let's eat !!"

TRUE STORY :drillsergeant:

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Yeah it is amazing how the communications and media have changed the whole "incident" reporting situation.

In this case- No one who could have prevented his "Leap of Faith" was in a position to either see or do anything to stop him.


The guests (and some employees) walking around the Fort, thought that a guy doing a Trick Dive out of the Mine Train into the Pond was part of a staged stunt to entertain the crowds waiting for food or for the LOG FLUME ride. They clapped and cheered his every move. and those of the rescue squad.


I suppose we could have been written up for accepting a gratuity from Charlie, in the form of a free lunch, but frankly nobody seemed to care about what we did with him so long as we kept him off the rides with any 'high altitude.loops or curves.


Jackson PD finally showed up to take Charlie to a public transportation center where he could get a bus back to NYC. I never did learn how he got TO Great Adventure, in his condition, that Saturday morning.


*** Note- There were times when employees were allowed to eat in the restaurants with the guests, usually during off-peak hours. We got a decent discount sot the food was reasonable. I used to love the BBQ Beef Short Ribs from the BEST OF THE WEST

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I happened to see a photo in the Employee Manual for 1975 of the Security Director LES MOORE. Even some of my associates from those early years don't remember him. He had the shortest tenure of any of the Security leadership in the history of the Park, to my knowledge.


While perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, the inside joke was that he never got out of his car...He drove in Gate 1 spoke to the Officer there about what Gate 1 was in relation to the rest of the Park... then drove to Admin and Gate 2. This is when Secuity was in the long single-wide trailer next to Gate 2 across the driveway from Admin. He looked at the trailer, went into Admin, and left the Park. Most of us did not see him again..although on paper he was the Director for more than a day or two. Some folks don't adapt well to the Life of a Jersey Pine Barren Resident !!!


While I have your attention, let's talk about manpower use during the season...since it varied greatly day-to-day based on events and activities scheduled. Let me give sort of a generic day then add any special needs crews to that--

Places that had a full time person assigned 24 hours a day

1. Shift Leader (LT)

2. Asst Shft Ldr (SGT)

3. Radio Dispatcher

4. Motor 1- day shft patrol car

5. Gate 1- Employee entrance and Service entrance road

6. Gate 2- Employee walk-in and Admin entrance

7. Gate 3- Safari Exit and Maint,/Fire Dept/Western Section Access Rd (not on Mid Shift)

8. Gate 4- Access road to Loops and rides on west end.

9-10 Main Gate- 1 or 2 people working the entrance area-

11-12 Western area two officers on foot patrol durin peak hours.

13-14 Fountain-Dolphin-Loops one or two foot patrol during peak hours

Motor 2 & 3- additional motor units added during increased work load including ambulance driving


One day shift foot patrolman working the Safari Entrance, keeping traffic moving, warning soft-tops of animal damage, and keeping the NJ wildlife from wandering into the area(deer)


Day shift we had an officer writing up animal damage claims at the Safari Exit FULL TIME on the weekends


Add to that half a dozen plain-clothes "shoplifter catchers" (The record for these folks was 61 arrests in one day in 1977- an arrest was made if the person stole over $100 in merch. Less than $100 and they were were ejected from the Park.)

and a special group working with Cash Control dealing with counterfeit currency


Add to that an Arena Concert Crew of 8 to 15 Officers depending on the anticipated crowd size.


Seldom a dull moment during the operating season at G A in the Security Department.

Edited by mayor al
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It sure didn't take kids and Parents living anywhere near Great Adventure to figure out that G A's Season Pass was about the cheapest Day-Care they could purchase for their kids. It wasn't long after the first of the seadon passes were sold that we started noticing cars coming in to the Main Gate area and dropping kids off as early as 7:30-8:00 AM on weekday mornings in the summer months. We had to have a foot patrol in the area to prevent vandalism and keep the kids "quiet" as the opening activities got started each day. Sometimes as many as thirty or forty 'pre-teen' kids, mainly boys, made up the group. One of our Seasonal Officers was a teacher in the Jackson Schools and was assigned to help keep thing settled down with the kids during the morning rush.

The other side of that situation was that some of the kids ( ages 6-11) were really lonesome being stuck at GA by themselves all day every day. Officer Pete DeMatteo soon found that everywhere he went as he walked his shift in the Park, he had a group of kids tagging along talking to him like kids on a school playground. He always seemed to find a way to get some hot dogs for the few kids who showed up without lunch money.

He went home at 4 PM daily, and we would see the kids sitting out by the tram pick up wait for their rides at about 6 PM five days a week. Great Parenthood...

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Somewhat related to that 'day-care' story... My son Jeremy who was 7 and 8 in 77 and 78 used to beg to come to the park with me on concert days, knowing I would go in early --7 AM and work thru till closing at Midnite or so.. He would stay in the office, out of the way until the Park opened, then go ride whatever rides he wanted to ride, He made friends with Alan Carpenter in the Arena Show and got to hang out in the stables with the trick riders for awhile. He had a real nack for working his way up the ride lines if they were long.,, He blended in with the families in line and just moved from group to group til he got to the front family, then asked them if he could ride with them, "Because his Dad was not willing to wait in line with him!" They always let him join their group. When he got tired He would turn himself in to "Lost Parents", enjoy one of their free ice cream cones or a cold drink then have them call me to come and get him.

Jeremy, is 44 years old now an is still a con-man.

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If any of you former employees have any feedback for me on my "stories from the past" please tack them on . My memory is at the 72 year mark with only a couple of return visits to GA aince we moved out of New Egypt, NJ in 1978. BTW I was the elected President of New Egypt;s Boad of Education from 1974-1977.


We did have a grand send off though. I "Honcho'd" the Security detail for Krystal Gayle's two shows in the Thearter that night, then more or less wandered around the park for my last few hours saying goodbye to friends in other departments. It seems funny now, that I was not a Supervisor (pay-wise) but I had been used to do some interesting teaching/training jobs that involved other departments as well as Security.so I knew a lot of good folks around the area. I wrote the Parks first Emergency Evacuation Plan and Disaster Reaction Priority Plan (1975) for Ed Gadberry, and The Security Operations, Policies & Procedures Manual 1976

..so Here I was talking with the "Suits" Larry Allen and Jim Ashworth, two of the BEST of the TEXANs in the Exec crew. down to some of Nickie Yanolleo's Knuckle-dragger Gorrillas on the Midnite Trash Pick-up crew ( they turned in more kids trying to stowaway in the Park overnight after we closed).

Then it was down to the Corner House on 537 near Cookstown , one of the favorite late night gathering spots for employees for a celebration and to be the target of a "ROAST" Since some of my co-workers were pretty well shot. Larry Allen stood in the crowd and did a great Texas monolog about what that Texan group had found when they arrived at Gate 1 two years before with no one there to greet them but this slick-talking overweight gate-guard ( yep it was me)... and the Roast went on from there.


So my friends, I have fond memories of the place. Larry Cochran personally interviewed me the day I left and wished me well in my return to college teaching as my career choice. I probably would not have survived the cutthroat politics of Management in the theme park business, but I had more fun and got more immediate results for my efforts in that job than in the public education systems I worked in later. I guess they would have felt funny having a security guard with Ed.S.. checking id's for a living !!



Edited by mayor al
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I was thinking about starting a new thread for the first five seasons, to make room for what I hope will be chapters on the adventures of the folks in Security who labored thru the 80's, 90'a and 00's (what the hell do we call that decade anyway) But then I figured anyone else who comes on board can start their own, and I hope they will.


Now, I have put in a couple of "serious" reports, dealing with serious accidents and injuries on the threads in RIDE OPS under the CABLE CARS and the RUNAWAY TRAIN. I won't duplicate those stories here, but urge my companions to locate and review my version of those incidents and add or repair any corrections needed..


I have noted the comments elsewhere about the use of metal detectors and increase security in the Main Gate area as the 80's came along. We saw that in our visits to 6Flags Magic.Mtn also. Thats pretty much what made us quit going to the 6F park in L A.


In the earlier years we relied on the word of mouth from employees regarding armed guests. Often rest room attendants, tram crews, and park workers all over the place "Just happened to see" an exposed weapon...and called it in or mentioned it to a security officer. One of the Plainclothes officers from the shoplifter crew would be sent out to locate the target individual and follow them until they were in a quieter area where a uniformed officer would assist the first officer in asking the individual about his I D and if a cop his dept badge. I only was involved with this activity one time.. A tram driver reported a man with an ankle holstered revolver has entered the Park.with his family. One of the Internal Security guys was asked to go out to bring the guest back into the office, informally to meet with the Director.. Our guy was dressed very nicely that nite in what could be considered a "MIAMI VICE" outfit. Dark Suit and white tie, I was to follow in uniform as his back-up. After 12 hours on the clock, I was NOT neat, so I put on my winter jacket to cover my wrinkled uniform and tagged along (a cool fall evening.. We entered the Park just ast the guest entered the Men's rest room by the old main entrance and the tents. I went in, followed by our Don Johnson look alike. As the guest finished and was washing his hand Jim asked him politely, " Sir, Are you carrying a firearm in the Park tonight?" the guy looked at Jim, then over his shoulder at the Gorilla in the Security coat he saw directly behind him and slowly raised both hands and said very clearly.." I am a Jersey City Police Officer, I am required to carry a weapon when I am off duty, I have a snub 38 in my ankle holster" Do you want me to remove that weapon at this time." To which Jim said, "That won't be necessary if you will show me your I D and then accompany us to the Security office, my Boss would like to meet you."


and off we went... The cop was impressed with the lengths we went to provide a safe environment for his family, and was very suprised to learn that we were NOT armed.


Little did he know that the favorite command yelled by Patrolling officers charged with catching the fence-jumpers at night was--" STOP, OR I'LL CALL FOR ASSISTANCE !" and if the Officer was outnumbered as they usually were you might hear "I STOP, OR I''LL shit !!


So much for armed intervention.

Edited by mayor al
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As part of the training programs that Management asked for during each off season, was a basic firearms safety and orientation course that included 8 hours of range time at the Jackson PD firing range. In reality, the range activity only happened once. We did include Firearms orientation and handling as part of the annual winter training sessions, but without live firing. That was designed more to make officers aware of the dangers presented by armed guests,

This was in exchange for the use of the Park for a Police "SWAT" Training exercise on a winter weekend- speciffically a simulated hostage situation at an unknown (until the police arrived on the scene) location within the park. We used the Western Cable station and the other tower in the Fort as the bad-guy base, and Security people dressed the part of the bad-guys and victim hostages..

About twenty Ocean County Cops rolled in that Saturday morning responding to the call from the park (simulated) of a serious situation. It took several hours with no fatalities to end the problem then about 2 hours of debriefing and discussion using the Security/First Aid bldg for a classroom to resolve access and communications issues. All went well for that session


The fireams Range training was narrowed to the Manager, and four selected lead officers. I was included only because I was already a certified firearms instructor and was on a first name basis with the Jackson Training Officer. We did our range time. The plan for training the rest of the department was denied at Upper Park leadership levels for reasons that varied from budget limits-to fear of flying bullets-to personal feelings about armed officers period.---all depending on who was giving the reasons and under what circumstances. The results were the same... other than the first brief orientation session, no attempt was made in the first five seasons to arm any of the regular Security Officers or Management personnel.

Edited by mayor al
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OK here's a photo that most folks would not add to a collection.. but needs to be a part of the overall employee relations scheme. Punching out early, even if your relief had come in and you were "done" was a "non-no". I got caught at it this time and here is the results. Don was a Shift Supervisor at the time, one of the original first season opening day officers.



Edited by mayor al
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