Hackettstown’s O’Brien Captures Western Life As Wild West City Cowboy

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 says. “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,” O’Brien 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. 

O’Brien’s sisters, Jordan and Kate, also work in the park as shopkeepers. It was Kate who initially turned him onto the job. He began in the candy shop and became a part-time cowboy in his first season. 

 Depending on the day, O’Brien 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 O’Brien, 20, occasionally participates in shows.  She is currently attending Pace University, in lower Manhattan, double majoring in communications and film and screen studies.  Jordan O’Brien, 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 master’s degree in physiology.  Both of them are also graduates of Pope John.  

For hours, rates, and further information about Wild West City, visit www.wildwestcity.com or call (973) 347-8900.

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