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Mike Safie, builder of the Wacky Worm Passes

1/5/2018

By Mary Weber

Photo courtesy of Matt Cook

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Mike Safie, an industry veteran, passed away on December 24th, 2017 after 47 years in the amusement industry. He was 84 years old. Safie was born in Bethlehem and moved to El Salvador when he was six. His family was primarily involved in the textile industry although they all had numerous other business ventures. According to Dave Griffith, an industry ride veteran and Sadie's former partner, Safie was a kind of "black sheep" of the family as he eventually moved into the carnival business.

Safie developed an interest in the amusement industry and began buying rides," says Chad Griffith, Dave Griffith's son and President of CMD Enterprises LLC. Safie was friendly with Jack Eyerly who sent 12 rides to South America for Safie to begin his business. David Griffith even brought rides to El Salvador and Panama for Photo By Matt CookSafie. At one time Safie owned over 300 rides and ran seven units. His route covered most of Central and South America traveling from Argentina to El Salvador. "He was one of the largest carnival operators in the world. He owned everything; he didn't book anyone into his spots," says David Griffith. Safie's company, Play Land Park International, became the largest carnival on the continent.

In 1983, Safie got into the manufacturing business and created Fajume Rides. David Griffith began talking with Safie and they were determined that they could be competitive in the manufacturing business. Griffith worked with Safie to manufacture and sell rides and industry-relevant equipment. The main objective of Fajume Rides in the beginning was to maintain and repair all amusement rides that were operated by Play Land Park International in Central and South America. 

The first ride Fajume manufactured was the Wacky Worm and it was certainly their most popular product. According to Griffith, Fajume Rides has sold over 200 Wacky Worms worldwide. The Wacky Worm was one of the first truly portable family coasters and its size and look made it a huge hit.

Currently, Fajume Rides manufactures a Tornado ride, a Galeon ride, the Wacky Worm ride, and the Crazy Chopper ride. 

"Mike and my father were some of the first people to bring in rides from overseas to US ride operators and operators in other countries at a palatable price," says Chad Griffith. Their quality product and affordable prices made Fajume Rides a success. Don Degeller bought Fajume Rides' first Wacky Worm and showed it at Gibtown where they made several more sales. Fajume Rides became quite a large manufacturing operation with over 140 people working in the manufacturing part of the business. 

Unfortunately, Safie battled illness for quite some time preceding his death and the Fajume Rides manufacturing business started to slow down a bit compared to the past. However, the company is still operating with Safie's children running the manufacturing business as well as the carnival operations in Central and South America. Currently, Safie's carnival is about five units large. The larger unit plays from Argentina to El Salvador while smaller units are traveling in Peru and Ecuador.

David and Chad Griffith have nothing but kind words and fond memories regarding Safie. "He was really a stand-up, prince of a guy," says David. Safie was known as quite the family man and was always accommodating to everyone according to Chad Griffith. "I've known Mike since I was a kid. He was always generous, fair, kind, goal-oriented, and just a driven guy," says Griffith. Chad recalls a time when his family traveled to El Salvador and Safie opened his home to them and was more than welcoming. "He always took on that patriarch role with his immediate family and his extended family just the same. I have nothing but fond memories of the man," says Griffith. 

Safie is survived by his wife, Beatrice, and his seven children who have taken over the businesses.


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