Diane Robichaud has been working at the Willows Casino for 19 years, tending to arcade games and exchanging the tickets players win for prizes. The latter range from miniature Tootsie Rolls to stuffed animals to Guitar Hero video games.
Some parts of Robichaud’s job have changed over the years, as computer software has taken over ticket counting and allowed for a range of new game designs. But the flashing lights, dinging bells and squads of excited children darting from game to game haven’t changed much at all. Adults play the games as well.
Robichaud chatted with The Salem News on a recent afternoon. She was joined during the conversation by Linda Casey, who has worked at Willows Casino for 18 years.
What’s your position — do you own the arcade? Manage it?
No. I just work here.
Who does own Willows Casino?
Ruth Campbell. She lives right in Salem.
What’s the season?
They open Easter Sunday, whether it be in March or April, and then they go to October, Columbus Day.
How would you say business has been this year?
Business has been excellent. ...I think the weather’s been on our side. Weather is a key thing.
Do people come at all when it’s raining
When it’s raining we will have people come in, but not as many. ... I find that a lot of people don’t come when it’s real, real humid. But the weather’s been pretty good.
Have you ever tried to figure out how many people you serve in a day?
I couldn’t even give you a number. Hundreds. It’s constant, it’s all day.
What time do you open in the morning?
Open at 10, close at 11 at night.
Tell me about the prizes. What’s the most popular?