Three industry titans to be inducted into the NEAAPA Hall of Fame
|Christos G. Chagros
NEAAPA – The Northeast’s Entertainment Association, is pleased to announce that Christos G. Chagros, Greg Chiecko, and Frank Darling will be formally inducted into the NEAAPA Hall of Fame on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, during the organization’s upcoming 111th Anniversary Education Conference and Annual Meeting.
Christos (Chris) Chagros began working for Eugene Dean Sr, the father of his good friend, Eugene Dean Jr around 1970 in the game operation in Salisbury Beach Massachusetts. Having a natural ability to run game, and great eye for merchandise, he went into a partnership with boyhood friend, Gene Jr on their carnival circuit, starting out with lucky strike dime pitches. And evolving into Skee Ball trailers, and group game, commonly called color games. Several factors led to Chris’ success over the years, but the one that sticks out most is his ability to discover, research, and source the most cutting-edge merchandise ever offered in the industry and sharing that knowledge with peers around the country.
Before starting his career in the attractions industry, Greg Chiecko became the General Manager of Chicopee’s Birch-N-Bend Gardens in 1983, a family business. He also served as a member of the Eastern States Exposition’s Junior Fair Board, an indication of things to come. In 1994, Greg was named Sales Manager of the Eastern States Exposition, becoming the Sales Director, a position he held for 24 years. In 2019, Greg was named the President and CEO of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA), the mobile amusement industry’s trade association. Over the years, Greg has volunteered with many organizations including the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors’ Bureau (GSCVB), the Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs association (MAFA), the Rotary Clube of Chicopee, Mass, and is a past president of NEAAPA.
Between 1923 and 1925, the Westchester (NY) County Board of Supervisors purchased over 200 acres of to create an “unequalled seaside public park to provide clean, wholesome recreation for the people of Westchester County.” In 1927. Frank W. Darling, who was president of the L.A. Thompson Scenic Railway Company at Coney Island, New York, was tapped by the Westchester County Park Commission to construct, operate, and manage Playland. By then, he had constructed amusement parks in New Zealand, at the British Empire Exposition in Wembley, and at the Modern Art Exposition in Paris, and was well known as an old amusement man, in experience, but not in years or enthusiasm.
The day after Labor Day, 1927, over 1,000 men began construction. Work was finished in time for the scheduled opening on May 26, 1928. Visiting experts immediately declared Playland to be one of the finest recreational centers of its kind in the country and is the first planned amusement park in the country, and a model for how to build parks in the future. Frank Darling continued as Director of Playland for several more years and completed additional projects such as the Olympic-size pool, increased boardwalk concessions, an indoor ice-skating rink, a scenic railway, and additional restaurants and picnic areas.
The NEAAPA Hall of Fame Inductions will part of the 111th Anniversary Education Conference and Annual Meeting, held March 4-6, 2024, at the Hilton Stamford Hotel and Conference Center in Stamford, Connecticut. For more information about the event, go to https://neaapa.com/events/annual-meeting.
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NEAAPA - The Northeast's Entertainment Association, is the premier regional attractions association in the United States, representing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, along with manufacturer and supplier members based throughout North America. NEAAPA's mission is to serve its membership by promoting safe operations, regional development, professional growth, and commercial success of the entertainment industry in the region.
NEAAPA tracks federal, state, and local legislative and regulation activity that will impact the attractions industry. Education programs are offered throughout the year covering topics of importance to our members, including the new NEAAPA Academy Online Training, available for NEAAPA Members. Social events are held throughout the Northeast United States and at various industry meetings and conferences. For more information, visit https://neaapa.com.