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Coleman Brothers Shows, Inc.

Middletown, CT

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The carnival began when Richard “Dick” Coleman bought a used, steam-driven merry-go-round in 1916 for $250. It was set up under the Portland Bridge and he charged passers-by for rides. He was 27 at the time and $250 was a whole lot of money for the clothing store salesman who also dabbled as a promoter of wrestling matches, basketball games, and boxing exhibitions. Even then, Dick Coleman couldn’t reign in his adventuresome spirit and his penchant for showmanship. The legend goes that some of the guys who worked the rides in the summer in those early days were also his prize fighters. He was always promoting something. With the contacts he made in different towns, he started booking rides around the state. Little by little, and with the help of Dick’s brothers Tim and Tom, more carnival rides were purchased, concessions were added, and the family business flourished. When Dick’s children Bob and Francis were old enough, they helped too, travelling with the seasonal carnival during school summer vacations. Now, Bob Sr. and his wife Rachel oversee the operation with their son Tim, daughter Mary and her husband Anthony, grandson Robert Coleman, and office manager Grace Pollard. Now with as many as 30 rides, as well as games and other concessions, the carnival employs as many as 50 workers, depending upon the time of season. The oldest ride, the Tilt-A-Whirl, is one of the original rides purchased by Dick Coleman in the early days. With new technology, carnival rides are not what they used to
be. They are flashier, run faster and smoother, and look snazzier. The Colemans are always on the lookout for a special new attraction. The rides are individually scrutinized before the carnival is allowed to open, inspected by the state police, the local fire marshal, and a state engineer. The Coleman family is very proud of their record. “Maintenance and safety are among our top priorities.”

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