This interview was conducted and recorded in Spanish. Read Leslee Dean's transcript and translation below.
Jorge "Chico" Gallegos is a native of Ecuador who lives in Coney Island and has been working at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park since 1986. Having experience as a painter with no fear of heights, he started out painting the 150 foot tall Wheel with a brush and roller and has been working year round at the park ever since.
Gallegos talks about the impressiveness and the mechanics of the Wonder Wheel and the seasonal rhythm of his work. The part of the job he likes best is working inside in the winter, doing maintenance and repairs on the nearly one hundred year old landmark Wheel. He describes the catastrophic damage at the park after Hurricane Sandy, changes that have come to Coney Island over the years, a 1930 mermaid which he repaired for the park's Mermaid Parade float, and the Vourderis family, who own the park, and his co-workers. "Because it's been many years working with them, you could say I've spent more time with them than with my wife. So, I think that we're like a family, yes, a family here."