In many families, several generations have fond memories of riding on the carousel as children and passing along the tradition by taking their children or grandchildren for their first ride.
A few summers ago, they added the Woodhaven Express Train and last summer they introduced the Frog Hopper to Forest Park. Well, they’re far from done, with plans to add yet another ride this summer: a Ferris Wheel.
And not just any old Ferris Wheel. This one is about 75 years old and is currently being refurbished.
So with four rides to choose from, along with a basketball shootout and a ring-toss game, it has been transformed into a mini-amusement park.
While the carousel itself will always be known as the Forest Park Carousel, going forward the entire site is called “The Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village.”
And the Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village has officially opened its gates for 2019 on weekends until Memorial Day, after which it will be open seven days a week throughout the summer, with free clown and magic shows scheduled every Saturday at 2 and 4 p.m.
We were very fortunate the day that New York Carousel Entertainment was selected to be the stewards of our historic carousel’s future. They have been committed to the growth and well-being of the carousel site while, at the same time, completely reverent of the carousel’s past and the feelings that the people of Woodhaven have for it.
Artistically, the Forest Park Carousel is notable, as it was the handiwork of the legendary master carver Daniel Muller. Muller came to the United States from Germany as a child in the 1880s and as a young man he and his brother worked for Gustav Dentzel, a renowned carousel builder in his own right.
Dentzel’s father built carousels back in Germany going back to the mid-18th century. Muller took advantage of the opportunity to learn all of these old-world skills from Dentzel and blended it with his own realistic style to carve out a name for himself. In 1903, D.C. Muller and Bro. Company was founded.
Muller’s carvings were beautiful and realistic, and in some cases the carvings were militaristic, with horses sporting bugles, swords and canteens. Over 14 years, D.C. Muller and Bro. created over a dozen carousels but, sadly, today only two remain: one in Cedar Point, Ohio, and ours right here in Forest Park.
The Forest Park Carousel contains three rows of carvings. The outer row has 13 standing horses, three menagerie animals and two chariots. The inner two rows each contain 18 jumping horses, for a total of 36.
While the Forest Park Carousel is often referred to as a Muller carousel, you will also find a few carvings from Dentzel and Charles Carmel, another notable carousel artist of the same era, on the inner two rows.
The Forest Park Carousel recently underwent a major overhaul, with many of the century-old gears and bearings carefully replaced. It was a repair job that took months, and required that the carousel be taken completely apart, piece by piece.
“We did this so it can run for another 100 years in this very spot,” says David Galst, managing director of New York Carousel. “We know that people are very protective of this carousel and we want it to last forever.”
New York Carousel Entertainment has also established themselves as a friendly partner in the community, working with several charitable groups and organizations, including the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society.
We came so close to losing this carousel a few years ago, it’s mind-boggling to think how lucky we’ve been and how good this has turned out. Make sure you visit this New York City landmark this summer to see the great work they’ve done in not only bringing our carousel back to life, but transforming it into an amazing amusement park for the entire family to visit.