Last weekend we went for brunch with our lovely friends Jon and Nancy at Bear Mountain Park in New York. After dining we took a walk around the lake and stopped at the carousel. It is a beauty! It was built very recently (2001) compared to most carousels that I am familiar with and it is unusual in that is has animals native to the Hudson Valley area rather than the more traditional horses. There is a frog, a goose, turkey, bear, fox, rabbit, a skunk and even an otter or two. Though I love the old-fashioned horse-based carousels, I couldn’t take my eyes off of all the wonderful critters. The music of the organ helps to create the magic surrounding a merry-go-round. As I watched the children and their parents go round and round, I was reminded of the many merry-go-rounds I have ridden over the years and what magic they create not just for children but for adults as well.
One of my favorites carousels, on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California, still has brass rings to toss. The hand-carved merry-go-round was created by Charles I.D. Looff in 1911 and renovated in 2009. It still plays the original 342-pipe Ruth and Sohn band organ that was built in 1894. It has been some years since I have ridden it but I remember well how I loved to toss the rings during a ride.
Another wonderful carousel in California is the Herschell Spillman Merry-Go-Round in Tilden Park near Berkeley. I went to visit it with my husband and his brother last year but it was closed the day we were there so I could only sneak peeks through the window. Even closed there was a magical feeling to the space.
More recently I visited Playland in Rye, New York and rode the Grand Carousel that was constructed in 1915 (and I also rode The Dragon Coaster of course—see The world needs play). I love the craftsmanship of hand-painted carousels and thought that the only artisans working on carousels were doing renovations. But it turns out that there are plenty of new merry-go-rounds, many found in the New York City area. No matter if it is old and tattered, renovated and glowing or perfectly new, enjoy the magical moment of riding a carousel!
What carousel is your favorite? Please share with us!
Recall the Carousel
By Laura Kasischke
Recall the carousel. Its round and round.
Its pink lights blinking off and on.
The children’s faces painted garish colors against
an institutional wall. And the genetics. The
We won’t be here too long … Do not step off …
The carousel? Do you recall? As if
we were our own young parents suffering again
after so many hundreds of hours of bliss.
And even the startling fact that
what had always been feared might come to pass:
A familiar sweater in a garbage can.
A surgeon bent over our baby, wearing a mask.
But surely you recall
how happily and for how long
we watched our pretty hostages go round.
They waved at us too many times to count.
Their dancing foals. Their lacquered mares. Even
a blue-eyed hunting hound
was still allowed back then.