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Issue Date: June 2009


Rating the Suburbs - Brooklyn

Mike Kissel,54
general manager of Memphis Kiddie Park
A lot of people don’t realize when they are in Brooklyn. They think they are still in Cleveland or in Parma.
 
One thing I am trying to do with the chamber of commerce is bring in the Old Brooklyn area. We share a lot of common ground. I catch myself going east farther on Memphis now to some of the stores.
 
We don’t change. It’s all the original rides. It’s run more or less the same way. We try to keep things the way they were.
 
Our clientele are children. I try to look at the park through the children’s eyes. When you walk in, they are overwhelmed. They’re only 3 feet tall, so the place looks huge to them.
 
The hang cars. They were my favorite ride — they were the only ones I wanted to ride.
 
15 years. My father-in-law was the general manager before me. I’ll work here until I die.
 
The top hill of the coaster is 12 feet tall, and when you’re just a little guy, that’s like a hundred feet in the air.
 
It’s so close to the Cleveland border, but it’s still small-town. Area-wise it’s pretty small, but people are packed in.
 
This is the kind of town where I can call the mayor’s office and he makes time to talk to me.
 
I think it’s changing. Your average person that lives here is probably 70. There are people here who have been here forever. Younger families are starting to move in.

Take a tour of The Plain Dealer’s printing facility. How many places actually have a major newspaper in their city? You think of a newspaper and you take it for granted — it just shows up on your door. To see what goes into making it is cool.

 
I’d like to see more housing. There are only a few areas that nothing is standing on — undeveloped.

 
Don’t push the kids to go on it. Parents say, “You will like this,” and the kid is screaming and scared to death. I can see years of therapy down the road.

 
I like to be out there incognito with a cup of coffee and see what people have to say. That’s my best input — what they like, what they don’t like.

 
The people are working-class heroes — going to work every day and paying their taxes. We are all in the same bowl of soup.

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