It’s hard to believe that one year has passed since the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum opened its doors to happy crowds in August 2017. (See the carnival anniversary event information below the blog post.)
Thousands from across the US have walked into the carousel’s impressive building and experienced its unique brand of enchantment. Visitors often find themselves instantly drawn to a particular animal—be it a giraffe or bulldog, horse or frog—each creature is a work of art and love that resonates. Albany’s carousel creatures are hand carved and hand-painted by community volunteers and individually take several years to complete.
Recently, I took out-of-town family to the carousel and we concluded that you are never too old to soak up magic. The “kids” I brought were in their 40s and as we looked around, we noticed that many riders were twice that age. Smiles were universal as the carousel began to move. Given that carousels were introduced to America in the late 1880s, it’s no surprise that many of us remember “merry-go-rounds” as part of our childhood experience.
The Gustav Dentzel family is credited with bringing European carousel production to the US during the Victorian era, and it is one of their original antique mechanisms that drives the Albany carousel today. The 100-year old fir and cast iron gears were donated by Dentzel descendants. It took local volunteers and laborers over a decade to rebuild and refurbish the antique motor, readying it for the grand opening. Long-range planning and organizing by community member Wendy Kirby is one reason the carousel project succeeded. Her determination and spirit was the primary driver behind spinning dreams into reality.
What you’ll discover when you go
Entering through the Albany Carousel doors is an act steeped in whimsy. The door handles are carved fantasies—animals spiraling around a branch, entwined with leaves. As your fingers curl about the handles, you’re touching the work of local artisans.
The great carousel room is filled with light from enormous windows and gentle breezes from overhead ceiling fans. The domed interior is bathed in a soft glow from amber-hued and arched wood beams. Starry-eyed riders eagerly wait their turn, peering through the wrought iron gate.
Smiling volunteers accept your $2 ride token and help you clamber aboard. Everyone can ride this carousel, as it is accessible to both wheelchairs or those needing a bit of assistance. A step stool is readily available for anyone who’d appreciate an extra boost for climbing onto a tall animal.
After you take a ride (or two or three!), make sure to visit the carving and painting room. A number of animals are still in production, and repairs to the current roster take place downstairs. Visit the in-house museum that includes 100-year old animals, signs, and other memorabilia—many donated by the Dentzel family. Don’t forget to visit the carousel gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs, toys, postcards and presents to take back home.
Blog post by Maddie MacGregor
Celebrate the Carousel’s One Year Anniversary
On Saturday, August 18th, the Albany Carousel is hosting a family event—an old-fashioned carnival to celebrate the first birthday of its grand opening. The carnival is a fundraiser and will feature game booths, photo booths, a bounce house, face painting, shaved ice and kettle corn, and other activities and snacks. The event runs from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Albany Carousel & Museum is located at 503 W 1st Ave. For more information, visit www.albanycarousel.com or telephone 541-497-2934.