If life had worked out differently for Chip Cleary, he might be in Hollywood now, engineering the lighting for the next big film or TV hit. But he isn’t complaining. He’s found success lighting up the waterpark industry as senior vice president of Palace Entertainment’s Water Park Team, based on Long Island,
N.Y. Based in Newport Beach, Calif., Palace operates 11 waterparks
Though Cleary‘s college education prepared him for a career
in the entertainment industry, he says he “stumbled his
way” into the theme park and waterpark sector. He’s now
been in the business for more than 30 years, and during that time
has seen a great deal of change.
“I originally started out on the theme park side of the
business, but was fortunate enough to see the waterpark boom coming
and started building Splish Splash in New York in 1990,”
Cleary says. “The changes in that period have been amazing.
We started out with simple water slides and now we have much more
exciting, much bigger in scale, scope and in some cases actually
gravity-defying water rides. Plus, lifeguard training and water
quality systems to have made tremendous advances. And I truly
believe the best is yet to come.”
Today Cleary is helping to make sure that happens. He was the 2010
chairman of the board of the International Association of Amusement
Parks and Attractions, and he's also a member of the Model Aquatic
Health Code Steering Committee.
According to Cleary, his role has been working with the Steering
Committee “trying to look at the entire body of work to make
sure it’s cohesive and practical.”
Achieving that cohesion has meant bringing together a group of
volunteers with very different backgrounds.
“The only way the MAHC can ever live and breathe is to have
all those parties at the table,” Cleary says.
“I’ve been very impressed with how open to listening
everyone has been on the Steering Committee.”
For his part, he has tried to bring a waterpark perspective to the
table. “Palace owns a lot of waterparks and obviously we take
an active role in making sure we provide a good safe
product,” Cleary says.