Khaki shorts met tailored suits Wednesday when executives from Cedar Fair LP rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange.
The daily bell, which marks the end of each session on the trading floor, typically sounds in Manhattan, where special guests from business, entertainment, and other fields flock to ring the 4 p.m. chime. But on Wednesday, the ritual came to Cedar Point, where a large camera recorded the action for live broadcast in New York.
Ringing the bell offsite is uncommon, but park general manager Jason McClure said bringing Wall Street to Sandusky wasn't a huge challenge. The NYSE wanted to celebrate the start of the new season, and according to Mr. McClure, Cedar Point is the “best place in America to celebrate summer.”
The celebration also allowed the company, which trades under the ticker symbol “FUN,” to celebrate financial success. The flagship park has had “record year after record year,” Mr. McClure said.
Cedar Fair as a whole -- which includes 11 amusement parks, four water parks, and five hotels -- reported 2013 revenues of $1.14 billion and forecast 2014 revenues between $1.16 billion and $1.19 billion.
Wednesday was also the first day of operation for the park’?s newest attraction, SlingShot. It is a tethered two-person capsule that is launched 360 feet into the air.
The bell-ringing ceremony, held outside the park’?s front gates, attracted more than 100 attendees, including shareholders, employees, and regular guests of the park. Before the group assembled for the camera, park employees distributed complementary cotton candy, American flags, and 75 miniature bells. The speaker system mixed contemporary hits with more thematic choices, including Anita Ward’?s aptly named disco tune, “Ring My Bell.”
The bell itself was rung by Cedar Fair‘?s president and chief executive officer, Matt Ouimet. When a NYSE representative gave the signal, Mr. Ouimet, clad in a bright red polo shirt, hit the bell with a mallet. Around him, guests waved their flags, rang their miniature bells, shouted in celebration, and grinned for the camera. Cannons shot metallic red, white, and blue confetti into the crowd.
Some park-goers were drawn into the action unsuspectingly; others considered themselves more devout. Cedar Point fans Henry Sievers, 71, and his wife Shirley, 68, both of Pine City, N.Y., agreed that the celebration was a great opportunity to support the park. Mr. Sievers, known to some as “Mean Streak Henry,” has ridden the park’?s eponymous wooden coaster more than 10,000 times since 1991 — an achievement commemorated by the customized T-shirt he wore to the ceremony.
Ms. Sievers, in a shirt reading “Cedar Point 2014,” enjoyed the festivities as well. It was “fun to wave and yell and scream” at the cameras, she said.
The NYSE has been inviting special guests to ring the bell since 1995. Often, the people ringing the bell are from a company that is a member of the exchange. Sometimes companies coordinate their appearance with the launch of a new product or service.
Wednesday was the second time Cedar Fair has rung the New York Stock Exchange’s bell.
In July, 2004, then-CEO Dick Kinzel rang the NYSE’s 9:30 a.m. opening bell to signal the start of trading. At the time Cedar Fair executives were in New York to complete an equity offering of 2.6 million shares that generated $73.3 million for the company.
This year, Cedar Fair officials were given the option of ringing the opening or closing bell. When it was decided they would do it at Cedar Point, they chose the afternoon bell because they were concerned that a morning event might delay customers trying to get into the park.
Cedar Fair stock has been trading on the NYSE since April 23, 1987.
The stock fell 17 cents a share Wednesday to close at $52.81. It has risen 6.5 percent this year.
By Marissa Medansky - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (MCT)
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