Not too many families can lay claim to living in a castle with a view of several man-made waterfalls, a pirate ship and a giant shoe-house.
But Susan and Joseph LaFauci can.
They manage Paradise Fun Park in the Parksville core, which is celebrating 30 years in business since opening with Turf ’N Surf mini-golf course in 1988.
The course is the idea of the late Mike Jiggins who, along with his wife Joan Jiggins, began and owned various businesses in the Parksville area.
Joseph and Susan (daughter to Mike and Joan) were managers of the RV park located right behind what’s now the fun park back in the late ’80s when Mike showed them the blueprints he had for a mini-golf course.
It was a pretty simple looking plan, said Joseph, but the LaFauci’s were planning a trip down to Disneyland. “My father in law says, ‘When you’re there, check out this mini-golf across the street from Disneyland.”
So they took some pictures, found out that Castle Golf Designs had designed it, and reported back.
That’s how Turf ’N Surf mini golf course was born, opening in 1988.
“It was a big risk. Mom and dad had no idea what they were getting into,” said Susan.
Their original plan for the land that Paradise Fun Park now sits on was to build an extended care facility. The family had experience in that market, owning and operating Arranglen Lodge at the time.
But, given the resort nature of the area, they thought a mini-golf course could be a good fit.
Though they were informed that good business practice was to have a nearby population of about 100,000 people before opening a mini-golf course, they went ahead with it anyway.
Evidently here’s a reason the Jiggins family was still in business.
“They came to Canada with $20 in their pockets, to Calgary,” said Susan, and since then have owned many businesses including a restaurant and lumber yard, not to mention local businesses like the Paradise Sea Shell Motel, and Arrowsmith Golf and Country Club.
“Within the first year, we knew we had to build another 18 holes,” said Susan.
That course, named Treasure Island, opened in 1990, with much of the original design redesigned by Joseph and Mike.
Joan and Mike were looking for a nursery rhyme theme, and that’s how the large shoe house was created, as well as the castle, in which the LaFauci’s raised their kids and still live.
Since then there have been more and more additions to the park, including an arcade, bumper boats and kiddie bumper boats. The boats came about through a trip to another mini-golf course.
Re-designing and building much of Paradise Fun Park’s second mini-golf course earned Joseph some work as a mini-golf builder for other places. He’s built five others around B.C., from simple to much more complicated, like those at Paradise Fun Park.
One of the five was in Scotch Creek.
“They wanted bumper boats, so he had bumper boats put in, so my mom and I went up there at the grand opening of it,” said Susan.
“We went on them and we had so much fun that my mom said, ‘Oh my God, we have to have these at Paradise!’ And we agreed.”
The Paradise Fun Park bumper boats were open in 2000, she said.
Over the years, managing the park has certainly been a busy gig, said the LaFauci’s, with many long days.
More recently, they’ve been helped a great deal by Barb Kloss, who they call their right hand lady.
But the benefits of managing the place are many.
“It’s great to hear people laugh and have fun,” said Susan.
They are also an employer of many youth, they said, hiring about 30 people very year.
“Over the years, they come back with their kids,” said Joseph with a smile, some thanking the LaFauci’s for giving them their first job.
Overall, they said they hope their family is proud of their hard work.
“I hope we’ve pleased my father-in-law and mother-in-law and the family,” said Joseph.
To celebrate the park’s 30th year in business, the park will have face-painting, balloons, a pirate clue hunt for treasure, goodies, door prizes, free kiddy boats, several free arcade games and more on Saturday, July 21.
For more information on Paradise Fun Park, go to paradisefunpark.net.