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OHIO RICH WITH CAROUSEL HISTORY

7/12/2007

By Flamo

Photo courtesy of Flamo

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Traveling I-71 between Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio there is a small city on route 13, named Mansfield. In the center of the city square is a unique feature I had not seen before. In a picturesque setting of flowers and walk ways there is building that houses an old fashioned carousel, complete with a band organ.

In 1991 Richland Park Carrousel Inc, a non-profit organization, had a new carousel and its building constructed using private funds and donations to become the centerpiece of a downtown redevelopment project. Carousel Works of Mansfield built this elegant piece of machinery and nostalgia. It is the first new, hand- carved carrousel to be built and operated in the United States since the 1930's.

It was built in the traditions of the early 1900s with all the animals and scenery hand carved and painted. Other featPhoto By Flamoures of this unique of machine include a restored, electronically controlled band organ, handicapped ramp, swiveling horses to accommodate handicapped seating Even thought the ride is gear driven, it was extremely smooth on start up and shut down with little or no noise. The platforms could have passed for hardwood flooring in an elegant home.

The cost of a single ride is $.75. Discounts are available for multiple purchases. The heated pavilion is open daily, year round. The building with its gift shop is big enough to accommodate small parties for the kids.

Just down the street I visited Carousel Magic where they hand carve new and restore old carousel animals. They do sell new and restored animals to public give factory tours and a gift shop is available for purchases.

A little further north on route 13, just off Piper Road I visited the factory that built Mansfield's carousel; Carousel Works. Here they design, build and install carousels. Inside the factory, several projects were on-going from restoration of a Hershel-Spillman band organ facade to horses and new pieces being made for current carousels building projects. Several new carousels are currently on order.

Inside the factory, I watched craftsmen carving, detailing and painting. The factory, in their new building, employs over 25 people. They custom design the carousels to their customer's needs and build them from the ground up. The art of woodcarving has not been lost here; machinery has not replaced handcrafted quality. The elegance and beauty of the craftsmanship of the 1900s is being revived and promoted here for future generations to enjoy.

For those passing through this area it is time well spent looking into the past. For those who own or are restoring older equipment I would suggest you call these craftsmen who have the expertise to help you.

Websites:
www.richlandcarrousel.com

www.carouselworks.com

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