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    Albuquerque, NM (KOAT) — Cliff’s Amusement Park is is not only a place that a lot of New Mexicans went to as kids, it’s been around so long that generations of New Mexicans enjoy the park. It’s like the Six Flags over San Mateo.

For the first time in more than six decades, the park did not open because of the COVID pandemic.

“One of the unknown features of the park is that we’re the state’s largest employer of young people, 15 to 18 years old, and we provide hundreds of jobs over the summer,” said Gary Hays, one of the owners of Cliff’s.

He said the 2020 season is over. The family run business for three decades is trying to stay optimistic, looking forward to next year.

“We’re hoping that will have a good season. I honestly don’t know if we can survive without opening up. Those are things we talk about as a family but we prefer to talk about the positive things looking ahead to what lies ahead for us,” Hays said.

Hays said if they’re allowed to open next year, they’ll have to make up for lost revenue because of the pandemic. He said that’s not their only challenge. The state’s minimum wage increase kicks in January 2021.

“For businesses like ours and others who have been devastated economically and now we’re gonna be forced $1.50 an hour more,” he said.

The head of the state’s Workforce Solutions Department says the administration completely supports the bill that was passed two years ago that would increase the minimum wage to $10.50 starting Jan., 1, 2021, even with COVID.

Hays said Cliff’s also employs more than 20 full-time workers, who had to be laid off this year because the park did not open.

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