Story Walk: dazzle

Story Walk: dazzle

Carousels in Rochester by Carol E. Samuel, RN

Round and round, up and down, old and new, young and old…the lights dazzle, band organ beckons… Come, see, linger. Smiling, waving riders convince you. “I want to ride the ostrich.” a youngster clamors. Irresistable!

Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! They’re off. Slowly, faster, and fast. You’re galloping away on a steed, cruising the jungle on a tiger, hopping through the meadow on a rabbit. Hold on tight to the shiny brass pole. You are carried away on the beautifully restored 1905 Dentzel Carousel at Ontario Beach Park. Not so far away on the shore of Lake Ontario, the new (1996) carousel at Seabreeze Park, proudly thrills its riders on horses created after a devastating fire devoured the PTC #36 carousel and accompanying miniatures created by Mr. Long. Four horses being restored at the time of the fire ride along, spirited, with the new horses. In downtown Rochester at The Strong, The National Museum of Play, an Allan Herschell carousel, rescued from an obscure shelter, pranced to life as the Elaine Wilson Carousel, taking riders on yet another imaginary journey at any time of the year while the “northern friends” wait, huddled, secure from the elements until crews awaken them in late spring.

As early as 1885, carousels began enchanting riders in Rochester in many locations: Ontario Beach, Genesee Valley, Willow Point, Seneca, Olympic, Glen Haven and Ellison Parks; at Manitou Beach and nearby Roseland Park in Canandaigua. Floods and fires have claimed some; others moved on to new homes. The Genesee Valley Park roundhouse pavilion echoes with carousel memories.

Imagine the hands that gave life to the blocks of wood, hands that carved and glued, embellished, sanded and painted. Apprentices followed the masters of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, the Allan Herschell Carrousel Company, Gustav Dentzel, and most recently Ed Roth. Band organs playing paper rolls have mostly given way to modern electronic music makers housed within the original cabinetry. Gone are the brass rings that when snagged, gave a lucky rider a free ride. Behold the artistry of the scenery panels and rounding boards that hide the mechanisms of these magnificent machines, the brilliance of lights that illumine the ride. So the Golden Age of the Carousel has passed.

Come, wait, watch. Bring your children, your grandchildren, your friends. Choose your favorite animal or chariot.

Revel in the magic of the carousel!