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Remembering Juanita Salerno, Co-Owner of All Around Amusements
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Juanita Salerno, co-owner of All Around Amusements along with her husband, Robert Salerno, is remembered by her family as a caring and devoted wife, mother, and friend. Amanda Salerno recalls her mother's commitment to the business and her ability to always put family first; “she was always 100% involved in anything she committed to, but still found a way to make time for us and the grandkids. She'd drop everything for family.” Robert Salerno remembers the integral role Juanita played on the show and certainly feels a void without her both professional and personally after 42 years of marriage. “I didn't lose a wife, I gained a guardian angel,” says Robert.

Juanita and Robert Salerno met each other in Romeoville Illinois when Juanita was volunteering for an event Robert played with Windy City Amusements. Once together, Juanita and Robert bought their own carnival in 1998 and named it All Around Amusements. Robert remembers his father, Tony Salerno, giving Juanita a bit of a hard time when she would stop by to chat with Robert while he worked. “My wife didn't understand the carnival industry at first, and my father was a bit of a rough guy but Juanita eventually grew on him and we have had many family events hanging out, eating, and playing cards,” says Robert.

According to Amanda, her mother didn't want anything to do with the show at first, but that quickly dissipated. “My mother would say that she dove right in and took on lots of responsibilities,” laughs Amanda. While Juanita continued to wear many hats on the show, most of her focus stayed on the office and food operations. “She would run the main and mobile offices, talk to committees, and create contracts,” says Amanda. “She was also happy to jump into the food stands that were not show owned, and she has even set up rides before.” Robert praises his wife's ability to manage the show's books saying nobody could manage the office like she could. “She was phenomenal in the office. There are lots of ways to do that kind of work but her way was the right way,” says Robert. 

Although not initially thrilled by the proposition, Juanita grew to love and appreciate the carnival business, telling Amanda she was grateful for the opportunity to travel and meet lots of people from different walks of life through the travel the business requires.

“She always said, without this industry, she wouldn't have experienced as much of the world or the people in it as she might have without the carnival,” says Amanda. Juanita would make a concerted effort to form connections while on the road with the show, especially forming bonds with committees that All Around Amusements worked with during the year. “She was the loving one, everyone loved her. I knew how to get the dates and she knew how to keep them,” laughs Robert.

Perhaps the best example of Juanita's caring heart and commitment to the business was her devotion to helping children with special needs. “My mom always wanted to make sure that children with special needs had their own time on the midway where they felt special. She would always give the kids extra treats at the food stands and be out on the midway putting the biggest smiles on their faces,” says Amanda.

During the Salernos' first season on the road in 1998, Amanda would join her parents on the weekends or after school during the week when they were closer to home. “My parents were very strict about education first and work second,” says Amanda. At just 13 years old that first season, Amanda, like a typical teenager, somewhat rejected the family business, but grew more interested once she was older.

“When I was about 17 or 18 I really started paying attention and fell in love with the business. Once my brother and I got involved, my mom supported us and helped guide me with my first game: the rope ladder,” says Amanda. Juanita also provided her kids with an education in the food trailers and how to manage the books and speak with committees. “I learned one side of the business from my father and the other side from my mother,” says Amanda. “I got the best of both worlds.” Amanda remembers her mother fostering independence in her children; “she never pushed us into the business but kind of took a step back and then embraced us once we got involved,” she says.

Some of Amanda's fondest memories of her mother took place when the family was working together at their winter quarters or a busy night on the midway. “Mom ran the main office in the winter while Dad ran the shop. Mom would say she needed a new printer or fax machine and dad would grumble about the cost but then dad would need a new expensive tool for the shop so mom would give it right back to him,” laughs Amanda. “I liked playing the middle man between the two of them and I'd end up making a game out of it.”

Robert recalled coming to Juanita with the desire to buy a Freak Out ride for the show. Protecting their family and business assets, Juanita was a hard sell. Robert eventually got the ride while still protecting the family's money in the bank and Juanita couldn't help but smile. “She kept me straight. She put the family's interests first and we worked on the green light/red light system. When she told me red light I knew to shut my mouth and green light meant I had the go ahead,” says Robert, fondly. “Whenever she would yell ‘ROBERT' really loud I knew I was in trouble.

As busy as Juanita would get with the show, she always took the time to visit and spend time with her grandchildren. “Sometimes she'd stop everything. Some nights she'd watch the kids while I took her place out with the show. She would take the kids to the back of my parents' property and let them go swimming in the pond or take them on adventures to the park. She would pick them up from school when I needed her help and I am lucky enough to never have needed a babysitter for my kids,” says Amanda.

Juanita cherished her family relationships especially her connection with her husband, Robert. “You'd always see my parents walking down the midway holding hands; they didn't care who was looking, beautiful relationship and it's not something you see as often these days,” says Amanda. Robert was confident that, in Juanita, he had both the best business and life partner. “I always knew I would be a success but with her by my side I was more successful than I could have imagined. She was absolutely the best wife, mother, and grandmother.”

LEFT TO RIGHT - TOP: Mike, Samantha (niece) Robert, Roland (Juanita's brother), Dominic (Juanita's mothers partner), Joan (Juanita's mom), Juanita, Sophia (granddaughter), Amanda (daughter) SECOND ROW: Kayden (grandson), Chloe (granddaughter), Jackson (grandson), Lucia (Juanita's sister), Josh (Juanita's nephew), Robert II (son), Jeremy (Amanda's partner) BOTTOM: Kaylee (granddaughter), Caitlyn (granddaughter)
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