More than 200 members of the National Carousel Association (NCA) made a stop at the century-old structure on their four-day, 11-carousel trip from Long Island to Coney Island last week.
NCA president Bette Largent said the group shares their love for the artistry and craftsmanship of carousels, as well as raise significant funding every year to help make repairs and train carousel operators.
“I got into this because of the art of the carousel,” Largent said. “I also had a background in historical research, but I also like to ride them.”
Largent and the group gathered to thank NY Carousel, as well as the local community groups, for their hard work in getting landmark certification from the city earlier this year.
“We did some research for the local groups here to get it landmarked, and we are so pleased that it was,” she said.
Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association president Ed Wendell was among the local activists that fought for landmarking.
“This is fantastic to see,” Wendell said. “To have people from the outside who are big fans of carousels as their hobby, to have them come in such numbers, to see their excitement and how much fun they’re having, to hear the comments they’re making about the carousel, it feels good.”
The ride was moved to Forest Park in Woodhaven in 1973 from its previous home in Dracut, Massachusetts.
NY Carousel took over as the concessionaire of the handcrafted structure in 2012. Since then, the old mirrors have been replaced and 270 dated lightbulbs were replaced with LEDs.
Over the next year, NY Carousel director Ami Abramson said the company is putting “many tens of thousands of dollars” into the carousel to repair the century-old mechanics.
“We want it to run smoothly and safely for many years to come,” Abramson said. “We’re doing a lot of the things that should have been done 10 or 20 years ago, and they should only have to happen once in yours or my lifetime.”
As Abramson and the carousel operators accepted a plaque from the NCA during the group’s visit last week, he assured they plan to continue their effort in preservation.
“We usually have days like this when it’s this busy, but it’s usually a Sunday or at a birthday party with a lot of kids,” he said. “But for us to see this many adults that are also so invested in the carousel is so special."