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Mike Koontz, VP and GM of Kings Island in Mason with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren

There's So Much to Explore in Ohio

Mike Koontz, Vice President and General Manager of Kings Island, shares what it means to live in Ohio.

Mike Koontz at Kings Island in Mason with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren

There's So Much to Explore in Ohio

By TourismOhio

Posted On: Aug 24, 2022

I first visited Kings Island as a kid in 1974, never imagining I'd wind up working there one day. But here I am, managing the park as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. My journey didn't start in Ohio, but I'm so glad it brought me here.

large family standing in front of 50 sign at kings island amusement park in mason ohio

I grew up near Charleston, West Virginia. After graduating from West Virginia State University in 1980, I took a position in the Charleston office of a national CPA firm. I liked living and working in my hometown, close to friends and family, especially after my daughter was born.

Making the Move to Ohio

In 1988, I got a call from a recruiter who told me about a position with a clothing retailer based in Columbus, Ohio. I was torn. My family was from Charleston, and we didn't know anyone in Columbus. But the offer was too good to pass up. So, with mixed emotions, my wife, my 7-year-old daughter, and I moved to Columbus. We've been in Ohio ever since, minus the six years we spent in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Leaving West Virginia all those years ago was a tough decision, but Ohio has been a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family. We love Ohio for so many reasons, but I'm most impressed by all of the fabulous things to see and do here.

As the vice president and general manager of Kings Island, I naturally have to start with Kings Island and its sister amusement park, Cedar Point. These are truly two of the premier amusement parks in the country, and they're both less than three hours away from most Ohioans.

Visiting Ohio's Vibrant Cities & Charming Towns

Ohio is home to three major metropolitan areas — Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati — all with their distinct cultures and personalities. My wife and I have lived in two of them and have visited the Cleveland area. Each one offers something different when it comes to restaurants, neighborhoods, sports teams, cultural events, and leisure activities.

In fact, my wife and I enjoy taking day trips, and Ohio is perfect for that because there's so much to explore within an easy drive. We especially enjoy eating out and we like to visit locations that are home to restaurants we're eager to try — or revisit. Der Dutchman in Plain City, Schmidt's Sausage Haus in Columbus' German Village, and Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati are a few of our favorites.

My job keeps me pretty close to Cincinnati in the summer. And that's OK, because there's so much to do here, whether it's going to a Reds game, visiting the Cincinnati Zoo, or being entertained with a Broadway show at the Aronoff Center. But when we get the chance to go a little farther from home, we have enjoyed driving through Amish Country, visiting the Christmas Story House in Cleveland, spending time at the Columbus Zoo, enjoying Velvet Ice Cream in Utica, and of course, spending time with our grandkids who live in Columbus.

After 28 years in Columbus, Sandusky, and Cincinnati, I think it's fair to say that I"m a "Buckeye." I have found everything I needed and wanted living here, in Ohio.  

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