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SLA President Paul Kasin: Get Involved
Kasin encourages members to get involved with the organization


By Don Muret

Photo courtesy of Paul Kasin

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Paul Kasin gave one of the shortest speeches in the 102-year history of the Showmen's League of America during its annual banquet in Las Vegas.

In December, Kasin, a Chicago games concessionaire, officially took over as the group's president for 2015. He's been a member of the charitable organization for 37 years. Both Paul and his twin brother, Peter Kasin, joined the club when they were 21 years old.

"I had a great speech in Vegas," Paul Kasin said, tongue-in-cheek. "It was about a minute long, short on words, but long on meaning. My motto is 'get involved,' whether it's the SLA, NICA, the OABA or IAFE. Make a difference. If you don't get involved, don't complain when things don't go your way."

If you know the Kasin brothers, it's no surprise Paul kept his bPhoto By Paul Kasinanquet remarks brief. In general, Paul is the quiet Kasin. His twin Peter is the gregarious one, talkative and sometimes outspoken for the good of the cause.

But that doesn't mean Paul doesn't get things done as well. This year, when he's not operating Kasin Concessions' basketball game for Skinners' Amusements carnival, he'll be stumping for the Showmen's League.

The Chicago-based group does a lot of good for the outdoor amusement industry, starting with its annual scholarship program that helps put students tied to carnivals through college.

The SLA is also responsible for Showmen's Rest, the section of a Chicago cemetery reserved for giving a proper burial for carnival workers whose families may not otherwise have the financial means to pay the expenses.

In addition, the group's yearly holiday parties in December at Hanson Elementary School in Chicago have put a smile on the faces of hundreds of school children, including many disabled kids facing physical challenges in life.

The Kasins have been principally involved in many of those charitable activities and now it's Paul's turn to lead the group. Unlike many other SLA presidents over the years, Kasin resides in the Chicago market, so his leadership will seen on a regular basis during the group's general meetings and board of governor's meetings in town.

One of those general meetings was scheduled for Feb. 12, the week after the Gibtown trade show. The group has about 1,300 active members and Paul Kasin wants to boost those numbers by more than the 25 to 30 new members gained every year. To do that, he wants to send a survey form to current members to get their feedback on additional services the Showmen's League should provide to make it beneficial for them and others to be part of the organization.

SLA officials are open to all concepts for growing membership and making the group relevant to the millennial generation. Many SLA members are older now and Kasin wants to get input from the younger crowd, some fresh ideas that could include tapping into social media campaigns.

The survey, to be developed by Kasin and SLA Executive Secretary Joe Burum, should be completed and emailed to members by April along with the group's quarterly newsletter, Kasin said.

There are already some changes coming to the SLA's annual yearbook that recognizes membership and serves as a primary funding mechanism for the organization.

This year's book will expand beyond the typical carnival "Thank You Mr. President"  congratulatory ads to include two to three pages of photographs giving a better picture for how those shows did over the past season.

The goal is to provide more depth of information for the yearbook, Kasin said. The cost to contribute to the yearbook has not been determined, he said. In the past, those fees have been $250 to $500.

Kasin expects a few more recent SLA initiatives to keep building momentum and provide exposure for the group.. The annual SLA Day, Aug.
5, involves members buying T-shirts with show logos for their employees to wear that day.

This year, there is a sponsorship fee of $250 plus a cost of $10 for each shirt ordered. There is a 50-shirt minimum order required for carnivals. For concessionaires, the minimum order is 25 shirts.

Those who buy shirts can have up to 30 logos printed on them. All the money goes directly to the scholarship fund. Last year, the Showmen's League funded 34 scholarships, Kasin said.

The annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in downtown Chicago also helps put the spotlight on the club. Officials rent a trolley and attach the SLA banner to the vehicle for the parade. This year marks the third time the club has participated in the parade. The first year was in 2013, which marked the Showmen's League's 100th anniversary.

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