DENVER — Mylz Navarette’s first ride in his young life happened on Friday at Lakeside Amusement Park. A tradition now passed along through four generations.
"He’s experiencing what I used to experience, what my parents experienced, and my daughter also," says Mylz grandfather, Frank Navarette.
Mylz's mom, Alyssa, didn’t think it would happen this summer.
"I thought I was going to have to wait until next year, honestly I did," said Alyssa Navarette.
Mylz's ride operator, Jesse Sena, is one of the hundred plus employees who have played a key role in opening the gates once again.
"It was pretty tight to see everyone with a smile on their face and little ones having a smile on their face," Sena explained.
Brenda Fishman, who overseas the park, can tell you getting to this point wasn’t easy.
"We had lots of struggles, hiring enough help, getting people and training people," Fishman told Denver7.
In late May, Denver7 reported the historical amusement park couldn’t open like planned because no one was applying.
"I think time...and the word got out, and kids got out of school. They realized it was summer and started applying," Fishman said.
It’s part of growing trend in low-wage industries, which has seen a massive spike since the huge dip in April 2020. More recently, the state labor department says the number of jobs in the arts, entertainments and recreation industry grew by 3,300 jobs in June. Amusement parks like Lakeside fall under that category.
Even with more workers, the pandemic has presented other challenges. The park has some new rides but they are having trouble fixing some of the old ones because the parts to fix them aren't coming in on time. Even the popcorn and hot dogs are different.
"It’s crazy. People are out of things they are never out of. I’ve been doing this for decades. I’ve never had these problems. I can’t find the hot dogs we usually buy, they just don’t exist. I had to buy something different. I had to buy a different popcorn," Fishman explains.
The challenges are there, but new customers like Esmeralda Garcia don't mind. The young girl, from the Lakeside neighborhood, is visiting the park for the first time. That’s all that matters to Mom and Dad.
"We were waiting for it to open. We didn’t know if it was going to open or not but we’re glad it’s open," said Esmeralda's mom, Jasmine Garcia.
Lakeside consolidated its hours in part because of the lack of employees. The plan for now is to remain open all week except for Tuesdays until August 20. They will likely stay open on the weekends a couple of weeks after Labor Day.
The park still needs employees. If you'd like to apply click here.