What’s not to love about a carousel? For many of us, the mere throught of hopping aboard a painted horse or other fanciful creature brings a smile to our faces. For a charming mix of music, whimsy and history, here are five to consider:
Located in the city’s 23-acre riverfront park, this vintage-style carousel was lovingly created as a community project. Dozens of locals families worked to prepare the site, even carve and hand paint the horses. With old-fashioned organ music as the backdrop, families now enjoy seasonal celebrations including breakfast with Santa. The gift shop offers handcrafted ornaments, books and gifts to providing continuing support for the community treasure. Contact: www.salemcarousel.org.
North Tonawanda, NY.
Visit the one-of-a-kind Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, housed in the original factory building where you can ride two antique carousels and delve into their history. The largest of the pair is 40 feet in diameter, with hundreds of lights and 36 hand carved horses, some dating to the late 1890s. Rotating at 6.5 revolutions per minute, the carousel was originally intended as a thrill ride for adults. The “kiddie carousel” in the Children’s Gallery was created in the 1940s for the junior set to ride without the help of adults. It has been completely restored. Ask about carving and restoration demonstrations and other family events scheduled throughout the year. Contact: www.carrouselmuseum.org
The centerpiece of the permanent exhibit called Carousel Wishes and Dreams is one of the three oldest surviving Dentzel menagerie carousels in the world. This revolving gem was originally installed in 1917 at the Broad Ripple Park. After the building in which it was housed collapsed, the animals were salvaged, restored and eventually lowered through the roof to its new home on the fourth floor of the expansive Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Contact: www.childrensmuseum.org/carousel
Westerly, Rhode Island.
Built in 1876 and a National Historic Landmark, families can climb aboard what many believe to be the oldest flying horse carousel in the country. Once part of a traveling carnival, the charming carousel in Watch Hill features hand-carved horses suspended from chains. Thus, as the speed increases they seem to “fly”. Each horse has a leather saddle and a tail and mane crafted from real horse hair. Revelers can reach for the brass ring near the end of the ride. If you are lucky enough to grab it, you’ll win a token for a free ride. Contact: www.visitrhodeisland.com/what-to-do/amusements/458/flying-horse-merry-go-round/
Santa Ana, California.
Kids learn about environmental conservation and preservation when they climb about this eco-minded carousel at the Santa Ana Zoo. Rather than hand-carved horses, the Conservation Carousel is comprised of endangered species. After circling aboard this unique ride, kids receive a collectible educational card with information about at risk creatures. The zoo, founded in 1952, is located on a 20-acre urban oasis. A request from its original benefactor means you will find 50 monkeys in residence at all times. Contact: www.SantaAnaZoo.com.
Do you have a favorite carousel?