PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Buddy Knoebel the owner of Knoebels Amusement Park in Northumberland County got emotional as he thanked his employees for their hard work during an especially challenging summer season.
"Our guests have been so grateful that you are here and you're able to provide the fun, food, and fantasy that is us," said Knoebel.
The park is understaffed by hundreds of employees.
On Labor Day, Knoebels did something it has never done before to try to entice new hires and show appreciation for the ones who have worked here for years.
It gave away several thousand dollars in gift cards and raffled off a brand new SUV to employees.
Rachel Drumheiser was the big winner. She's worked here for eight years.
"I'm a little excited and nervous," said Drumheiser.
With unemployment benefits ending this Labor Day, Knoebels hopes more people will consider joining the team.
"The staff shortage led to things like food stands closing earlier than they typically do and unfortunately, several of our rides were unable to operate this season," said Stacy Yutko, Knoebels.
Knoebels isn't the only one struggling to find new hires.
BJ's M Street Tavern and Oyster Bar in Danville is having the same problem.
Manager Heather Harriman said setting up interviews has been frustrating.
"You'd would talk to them on the phone for 15 minutes and you'd go, 'okay, well, I'll see you Tuesday at 4.' Tuesday at 4 comes and they're not showing up," said Harriman.
Both of BJ's locations in Danville and in Selinsgrove are understaffed.
Harriman hopes the unemployment benefits ending makes a difference.
"I'm optimistic that we will get the people that we need to get both the restaurants up and going full capacity, full hours," said Harriman.
The restaurant cut its hours back because of the staff shortage.
It's no longer open on Sundays to give employees a day off.