Daeshawn Grimes and Jason Guzman do just that, managing the historic attraction which will be open seven days a week starting this coming Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s amazing,” Daeshawn said, describing his job as operations manager for the century-old ride, which was afforded New York City landmark status last summer. “Every day is something new.”
Daeshawn starts each day by inspecting the ride and performing mechanical repairs when necessary. He recently oversaw a minor facelift, replacing nearly 300 old light bulbs on the carousel’s overhead arms with LEDs, as well as replacing the worn inside mirrors with beautiful crystal glass.
Daeshawn is proud of his work on the carousel and that pride shines through any time you speak to him about it.
Like Daeshawn, ride operator Jason Guzman has been working at the Forest Park Carousel since it reopened in May 2012. Jason says the people that come to the carousel make this the best job he’s ever had. “The community has been wonderful to us,” he said. “I love coming here each day.”
The summer season had yet to start, but there was already a good crowd at the carousel this past weekend, including a birthday party. A special VIP tent is available for parties, which includes unlimited rides for guests and optional face painting and clown or magic shows. You can call (718) 788-2676 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for party rates and additional information.
Starting this weekend there will be free entertainment at the Forest Park Carousel every Saturday and on holidays at 2 and 4 p.m. Depending on the day, kids will enjoy entertainers like The Spectacular Magic Shawn, Bonkerz the Clown or The Amazing Captain Faust. You can check the calendar at forestparkcarousel.com for an exact schedule.
All of this is on top of the beautiful carousel itself, which the communities surrounding Forest Park are grateful to see up and running and well maintained. It feels good to see kids running up the steps and through the gates of the carousel again, trying to get to their favorite animal first.
“The lion and tiger are the kids’ favorites, because they’re different,” Guzman said. “But they really love the ones that go up and down, and we have lots of those.”
Indeed, the Forest Park Carousel has 36 jumping horses, 13 standing horses, a lion, a tiger, a deer and two chariots to choose from – all created by the hands of master carver Daniel Muller.
A carousel in Forest Park has been part of this community’s fabric since the early 1900s. There are parents, grandparents and great-grandparents in and around Woodhaven who remember their parents and grandparents taking them for their first ride.
But it’s not just for kids, plenty of grownups enjoy taking a spin and Daeshawn noted that recent riders included a 104-year old woman and an Army veteran of WWII, who also worked as an operator of the carousel in 1939.
“It was amazing,” he said.
Sadly, the original carousel was destroyed by fire in 1966 and for a while it appeared that we would never see one spin here again. But members of our community and elected officials, including Assemblyman Frederick Schmidt, vowed to find a replacement and one was found – in Dracut, Massachusetts – and brought here and reopened in 1972.
Its history from 1972 until 2012 was at times spotty, but the care that New York Carousel Entertainment has shown for our historic treasure leaves us confident that the ride will endure so that many future generations of children will be able to enjoy it every bit as much as we did.
Starting this weekend, the Forest Park Carousel will open every day at 11 a.m. It will be open weekdays until 5 p.m. in June and 6 p.m. in July and August. On weekends, it will be open until 8 p.m. and on evenings when there is a concert at the Forest Park Bandshell, it will be open until 9:30 p.m.
Riding the carousel at night under new lights and mirrors after a free concert in the most beautiful park around sounds, as Daeshawn will attest to, pretty amazing. When you go, make sure you say hello to Daeshawn and Guzman and tell them Ed sent you!