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Karen Lynn Salerno, of Windy City Amusements, Passes

Karen and Tony Salerno Jr.

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Karen Lynn Salerno recently passed away on May 8, 2021, just before Mother's Day.  Born April 10, 1960 in Hoffman Estates, IL, Karen was the wife of Tony Salerno, Jr. of Windy City Amusements.  Karen and Tony were married for 43 years, starting their journey in 1978, where they met at the last spot of the season in Rolling Meadows, IL.

Karen got her start in the business working games along side Debbie (Salerno) Murray.  She took Karen under her wing and taught her everything she could about the game business.  Karen determined games were not her thing, and instead took to managing the shows food concessions during the early years of the company.  

“Raising three beautiful girls on and off the midway was a challenge, but raising a family is always a challenge”, said Tony.  All three girls graduated from high school and two of their daughters, Christina and Tiffany went onto college, helping at the carnival from time to time when time would permit.  Samantha, their third daughter, stayed back to help in the family business full time.  “Karen told Samantha you need to be a special type of person willing to work hard and be on call all the time.  Samantha jokingly told her mom, you know I am dedicated and special, I was born coming out feet first and upside down,” recalled Tony.

Samantha, Tiffany, Christina & Karen Salerno

Tony and Karen ran the first unit of Windy City Amusements, with Karen working in the shows mobile office with Denise Weinman, the first unit office manager.  During the off season, she would work at the companies main office alongside Cheryl Salerno, wife of Tony's brother Mark who runs the second unit.  Running the carnival was a true family affair with Samantha working at winter quarters with her cousin Adam Salerno (son of Mark and Cheryl), Rusty Humphrey (ride superintendent), and Mike Salerno, who operated the third unit.  Karen put in everything she could give and more to the family business. 

Karen's dream was to eventually retire and buy a beautiful bus, much like a Rockstar, and travel across the USA, visiting various sites and enjoying life.  “She would tell me about some of the places she wanted to visit, and she wanted to be like Lewis and Clark to try and find new places to see and especially eat at,” said Tony.

Karen and Debbie Salerno (sister in law) working a game during the company's early years


But her dreams fell short, and on May 8, 2021, Karen passed away from a short battle with Acute Leukemia.  “She will be missed immensely!   She loved everybody and would do anything for you even if you made her mad, for some reason she would always forgive you.  She had unconditional love for children and dogs,” described Tony. 

Karen was a gold card member of the Showmen's League of America.

A private memorial service will be held for family only.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Karen's name to the Saint Jude's Children Research Hospital.

Saint Jude's Children's Research Hospital
5501 N Cumberland Ave #101
Chicago, IL 60656


Karen and Tony cutting the cake during their wedding, 1984.
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