The Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society hosted the event. For $10, children enjoyed unlimited rides on the carousel and other attractions. All proceeds went to the society to fund community projects.
“It’s a beautiful, beautiful ride,” said society president Ed Wendell. “I can sit here for hours just watching it.”
The original Forest Park Carousel had horses hand-carved by renowned carousel artist Daniel Carl Muller. For decades the carousel entertained families, but it burned down in 1966.
“When the original fire happened, it was a tremendous tragedy,” Wendell said. “There was a lot of great artwork that was lost.”
The current carousel was originally in Dracut, Massachusetts, and opened in 1903. The primary reason it was chosen as a replacement was that the carousel had original horses by Muller.
However, after it was moved to Forest Park, the carousel fell into disrepair. By 2008, there were bars barricading it.
When rumors of it being scrapped began to arise, the community moved to save it. New York Carousel stepped up and signed a contract three weeks before Memorial Day in 2012 to reopen the carousel by the holiday weekend. They worked tirelessly and the job cost six figures, but they did it.
In 2013, the Forest Park Carousel became a New York City landmark. There are only two remaining Muller carousels in existence: one at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, and the one in Forest Park.
“In my opinion, you’re not going to find a more beautiful and pretty carousel,” said David Galst, managing director of New York Carousel. “Because the amount of art and detail that went into the horses, all the hand-carved artillery on the sides, the sword, rifles, belt buckles on the lion. It’s truly amazing.
“The thing that really defines a historical carousel are the horses,” he added. “These are all made of wood, whereas the newer carousels are made of fiberglass. These are all hand carved by Mueller and his brother.”
For many, riding the carousel is an experience that spans generations.
“I know people in the neighborhood whose grandparents used to put them on this ride when they were kids,” he said. “And now they are grandparents and they’re coming here with their grandkids.”