I have always been a Merry-go-round child. I remember how important it was to pick the right horse and the whirling sound of carousel music. Do you remember watching for your parents standing in the crowd as round and round you’d go? Let’s be Merry-go-round children again while I remind you of some research information.
Start with some Carousel Music: https://youtu.be/TU_gWsoAB6o
In the turn of the last century, carousels fascinated the public. While the ride was available to Europeans since the 1700s, it was the advent of the steam engine that helped carousels come into their own.
Gustav Dentzel pioneered the modern carousel in America around the time of the Civil War. By the 1900s, artisans and manufacturers were building large and grand carousels. They favored animals and mythological creatures in a variety of poses. All were brightly painted and outfitted to prance in a continuous circle. Interest in the rides peaked in the 1930s. After that, many of the rides were dismantled or allowed to fall into disrepair. A resurgence of interest in the 1970s saved many of the old carousels. With new paint and gilding, the old motors were refurbished and all of the creatures came back to life for a new generation.
The International Museum of Carousel Art reported, “Of the more than 4,000 carousels built in America during the ‘golden age,’ fewer than 150 exist intact today.”
Several of them are here in North Carolina, including two from the master himself, Gustav Dentzel. I’ll write more about our other NC carousels, but NOW:
1550 River Drive, Rocky Mount
The circa 1920 Herschell-Spillman “County Fair” style carousel was bought for the City of Rocky Mount in 1952 by the Rocky Mount Civitan Club. The Carousel was severely damaged in the flood of 1999 and required extensive restoration by Carousel Magic of Mansfield, Ohio.
Renovated rounding boards were added to include paintings of images found on 1920′s postcards depicting Rocky Mount landmarks and activities of that time.
Open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, 1-7 p.m. A $5 admission fee allows day-long rides on the carousel, train, spray ground and other amenities.
Video about the Carousel: https://youtu.be/LYd5HU8IjkI