Pope John alum now a Wild West cowboy James O'Brien wanted fun job for summer break
James O'Brien on the job at Wild West City
BYRAM — Wild West City’s cowboy ranks added the talents of Hackettstown’s James O’Brien this summer. In his second season there, O'Brien helps bring the old west to life as a full-time cowboy at the family-run theme park in Byram Township. A graduate of Pope John XXIII Regional High School, the current University of New Hampshire student names interacting with park visitors as his favorite part of working at Wild West City. “I always like to look my best to give the customers the most authentic and realistic experience of the Old West,” he said. “I want to give them a smile.” He loves that guests of all ages immerse themselves in the experience and uses his performances to allow them to “actually believe that this tiny park was Dodge City, Kansas, in the ‘heyday of the cowboy.’” A double major in Political Science and Russian, the Division 1 Track & Field athlete wanted to work somewhere fun and relaxing during summer breaks. “The Benson family makes the work environment genuine, and treats everyone as one of their own,” James says of the park’s owners. Family-owned since the 1960s, Wild West City in Byram Township has long-encouraged old-fashioned familial bonding in a fun and unique environment, and that often applies as much to employees as guests. James’s sisters, Jordan and Kate, also work in the park as shop keepers. It was Kate who initially turned him onto the job. James began in the candy shop and became a part-time cowboy in his first season. “I believe that Wild West City is a very under-appreciated park in New Jersey,” he says. Already a fan of the theme park, which encapsulates the best of the West in the heart of the East, he says that “when I began working there, I fell in love.” Wild West City felt the same about the 19-year-old, earning himself the role of cowboy full-time. Depending on the day, James can be found on Main Street in some of the 22 different live-action shows performed daily, or playing the part of bandit, robbing unsuspecting stagecoach and train riders. In addition to her shop duties, Kate (age 20) occasionally participates in shows. She is currently attending Pace University, in lower Manhattan; double majoring in Communications and Film and Screen Studies. Jordan (age 22) just graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a double major in Neuroscience and Italian. She also will be going on to graduate school at Georgetown University to earn her Masters in Physiology. Both of them are also graduates of Pope John. Visit James and his sisters this summer at Wild West City! For hours, rates, and further information to start your family’s adventure, visit www.wildwestcity.com or call (973) 347-8900.