SANDUSKY, Ohio — In less than a month Cedar Point will open its gates to thrill-seekers for the start of its 151st season. The re-opening will provide a major boost after millions of tourism dollars were lost last year.
The park didn’t open until July and it had a limited capacity.
But as we begin to slowly come out of the pandemic, Sandusky is set for a major rebound.
In normal times, the home of Cedar Point brings in 3.2 million tourists each summer.
But last summer a dramatic decrease to around 600,000.
“Typically, we rely on $4.7 million in admissions tax that number shrunk to $600,000 in admissions tax.” Sandusky Mayor Richard Brady said.
Sandusky getting through the pandemic like so many other small towns. Including layoffs, pay cuts and major reductions in spending. The city also received millions in funds from COVID-19 relief bills passed by Congress.
“What we can all take away from this experience is Sandusky like many small towns through this we’ve had to bend, but never broken. "Sandusky Mayor Richard Brady said.
The summer of 2020 will also be one George Sortino will never forget. His Cedar Corner complex just down the road from Cedar Point hanging on. Sortino’s prime money-making months waisted due to COVID-19.
“It was sad, and it was brokenhearted. And we just tried to stay positive and survive it.” George Sortino said. “The last time it was this bad was when inflation was high, interest rates were 18% you couldn’t get gas. But we were still able to survive it."
Low overhead, negotiating with banks and a tightening of operating expenses helped the 35-year-old business survive.
And not only did his business survive, but so did George Sortino.
An already bad summer turned worse in July when the 77-year-old was hospitalized for nearly three weeks with COVID-19.
“I was saying my prayers. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t breathe.” George Sortino said. “I feel good and hope to be around a little longer."
Stories of survival in a place that brings joy to so many. And hopefully soon one of revival.
“Hopefully, people come, get on the roller coasters.” George Sortino said. "Like we say, if you stay any closer, you’ll wake up in a roller coaster.”
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