In 1949, when Lewis Newton learned that he was going to be a father “for the fourth time” he knew that he was going to need to make a major career change. And while he didn’t reinvent the wheel, his idea (fostered by advice from his parish priest in Brooklyn) to bring the very first Ferris wheel to make the rounds at Catholic bazaars in Brooklyn and Queens provided the jumping off point for Lewis J. Newton & Sons, the oldest family-owned and operated carnival company in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk. Headquartered in East Northport, it is one of an estimated 500 such traveling carnivals in North America, all family-owned. Newton Shows was recently regognized as one of less than 30 carnivals in North America with the Circle Of Excellence Award!

His initial investment of $9,300 for the Ferris wheel quickly transformed into a lucrative business, allowing Newton to purchase more rides and to quit his day job installing insulation for Western Electric. He continued his expansion in 1953 by adding four rides from a Levittown kiddie park that was forced to close due to its proximity to a cocktail lounge. During the winter, he stored the amusements in the boonies, on 20 acres at Elwood Road and Route 25A in Northport, which he leased for $10 a month.

His expansion didn’t stop there. Newton and his wife had three more children, two of whom, John and Mike, have taken over the modern day operations since health issues beginning in 1990 forced Lewis into semi-retirement.

“I don’t know how they do so well without me,” Newton said. “I ask them every day what is happening.” Almost half the company’s contracts, such as a 43-year association with St. Rose of Lima in Massapequa, are with organizations Newton himself signed up.

Between sons John and Mike, Lewis has four grandchildren who will inherit the decision to continue the legacy of Newton Shows. 

Lewis Newton

Lewis Newton, Carnival Founder, Dies at 92

By Joan Gralla, Newsday
August 24, 2013

Lewis J. Newton, who swam with Tarzan and played ball with The Rifleman before founding a traveling Long Island amusement company, died Tuesday at the Stony Brook Long Island State Veterans Home. He was 92.

Lewis J. Newton & Sons thrived because of Newton’s talent for befriending people, son Michael Newton said. “He just had a giT, everybody liked him and he helped everybody he ever met,” he said.

The Brooklyn naUve and longUme Northport resident was a lifelong swimmer. He trained at the same Brooklyn swimming pool as Johnny Weissmuller, who was an Olympic gold medal swimmer before becoming the first Tarzan.

And “he did play ball with The Rifleman, Chuck Connors, who grew up right around the corner,” said son John Newton, referring to the 1950s-60s television show. Newton, a boatswain’s mate in the Navy during World War II, in 1945 married an accomplished synchronized swimmer, Viola Joyce McDonald, who is known as Joy. ATer the war, Newton installed insulaUon at Western Electric Company, and began a business supplying prizes to church bazaars. In 1949, a Brooklyn priest asked him to find a Ferris wheel to rent. Newton invested all his savings $9,300 in a Ferris wheel that arrived in pieces.

“I couldn’t tell what I was looking at,” Newton told Newsday in 1997. “So I drove over to Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey and asked the guy who ran the wheel there if he could help me . . . He saved my life,” he said.

A few years later, Newton leT Western Electric and the family moved to Northport. “My mother never suggested I be a carnie,” Newton said. “But it turned out preby good.”

The company, which supplies amusement rides to nonprofit events, is run by sons Michael and John.

Msgr. Jim Vlaun, president of the Catholic television staUon Telecare TV, said in a statement the firm had raised millions of dollars for churches. He added: “He had the ability to bring enUre communiUes together.”

In addiUon to his wife and sons, Newton is survived by daughters Maryann of Buffalo and Carol of Lenox, Mass.; two other sons, Robert of Northport and James of East Northport; sister Marjorie Ann Goeller of Kinnelon, N.J.; 16 grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

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