Friday, August 14, 2020
Aug. 14, 2020

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Man who rebuilt Washington State Fair’s roller coaster dies

John Hinde inspected rides at Puyallup event for more than 25 years


The Washington State Fair’s wooden Classic Coaster was a personal favorite for John Hinde.

So in 2009 when Hinde got the chance to spearhead the 1935 ride’s reconstruction, he relished it, friend CW Craven told The Herald.

“It’s unique, and it’s a great design,” Craven said recently. “It’s only one of a few of that type, and he liked it.”

For the past 30 years, Hinde worked to promote safety in theme parks and carnivals. He was a wooden roller coaster expert and oversaw the five-year reconstruction of the Classic Coaster. He made the ride more secure, adding support and a modern design. The coaster was ridden more than 95,000 times last year, according to fair officials.

“They’ll notice it sounds different, even,” Hinde told The News Tribune in 2009. “It will feel more solid.”

Hinde died in his sleep Dec. 30 in his Port St. Lucie, Fla., home. He was 71.

Hinde worked at the Washington State Fair for eight years and inspected the rides there for more than 25.

“As for us at The Fair, we can say John was the sweetest man,” spokeswoman Stacy Van Horne said. “No one knew coasters like him. No one had that passion. He always had a smile, always wanted to share his knowledge, and he absolutely loved the Washington State Fair. He will truly be missed.”

Hinde traveled around the nation to teach safety, perform ride inspections and relocate rides. He was one of 21 amusement park inspectors registered in the state. He helped move and install Wild Wave’s corkscrew roller coaster in 1997.

Hinde, an Ohio native and Navy veteran, spent about nine months of the year in the Puyallup area helping out local amusement parks, said Craven, friend and general manager of the fair’s Skyride. Hinde enjoyed the unique carts and wooden design of Classic Coaster, Craven said.

Before heading to the fairgrounds for the day, Hinde was known to grab a cup of coffee and a bagel from the River Road Starbucks and share stories with Craven.

“We were very lucky to have him work on our coaster in Puyallup,” Craven said.

Hinde dragged Craven into teaching ride safety seminars at places like the Northwestern Showmen’s Club. He was an active member of the American Society for Testing and Materials International Committee on Amusement Rides and Devices. Hinde and Craven worked on the international ride safety standards used around the world.

He also was a member of the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials, The Outdoor Amusement Business Association and the American Coaster Enthusiasts.