Last week's Blast covered the Raven's design and construction, this week's Blast is going to be a little different than the norm. So much has been said about the Raven, that I thought I would tell about our first ride on the Raven!
I had been to Santa Claus Land in 1972. At that time the park didn't have a roller coaster or much else for of interest to me, but my then eighteen month old nephew had a great time. I on the other hand would have rather gone to that brand new park just north of Cincinnati.
Fast forward to the summer of 1995, when we made the pilgrimage to Holiday World, for our first visit and first ride on the Raven. This was before the world wide web was..well..world wide. We had picked up a brochure in April so we knew when the park opened.
We had driven down the night before, but the park was closed when we drove by. We were up bright and early, and were at Holiday World before they open. We waited in the parking lot until the gates opened and then waited in the shade in front of Kringles, for the park's other coaster, the Firecracker, to open.
As we sat there, proudly wearing our ACE shirts, a petite blonde lady in her late fifties or early sixties walked by (yeah, you know where this is going, but humor me.) She commented on our shirts and ask if we were there to ride the Raven. We said that we were, but we wanted to ride the Firecracker first.
The lady laughed and said to make sure we stopped by later, as she would be running the Raven and she wanted to know what we thought of the ride. The entire park finally opened and we headed to the 4th of July section of the park for a ride on the park's Pinfari Zyklon. We also rode a few other rides in the area, including the park's oldest ride, the Freedom Train.
Eventually, we found our way back to the Raven. The line was short and as is our tradition we waited for the front seat. The blonde lady was "driving" the coaster, she saw us and waved as we entered the station. The ride was smooth and full of airtime.
As the train re-entered the station, the blonde lady suggested we try the backseat. So, we walked around and waited for the back. We chatted with the lady until it was our turn. She shared a bit of history on the park and spoke of the future, if the Raven was as successful as they were hoping.
The backseat was amazing, this was back when the Raven had buzzbars and I was off my seat more than I was sitting on it! We rode a few more times in the back and then ended the day with a front seat ride. We had save the best for last and it was time to head out. As we were exiting, we saw an employee wearing a tie and asked him where Guest Relations was located. He asked if he could help us, we said we wanted to leave a compliment for an employee and described the petite blonde lady. The man chuckled slightly and explained that she and her husband owned the park. So...our first visit to Holiday World was also our first interaction with Pat Koch.
The years have passed and I think we will all agree the Raven has been very successful. The park has gone on to shatter many attendance records, even in a recession. And, Mrs Koch is greeting visitors at the park on a daily basis.