Euclid Beach carousel will soon turn again

Before Cedar Point had the world's biggest roller coasters, amusement parks were a bit different.

In the city of Cleveland, people went east to ride the carousel in the Collinwood neighborhood's Euclid Beach Park. And now, 45 years after it stopped turning, people have a chance to ride it once again.

To understand the carousel's significance, you must look back to the days of John D. Rockefeller.

Cleveland was a city on the rise, poised to become one of the nation's largest. All the people that made this their home needed a place to play.

RELATED: Euclid Beach Park carousel soon to be open for business

"A place where people went to have fun when they were out of the factory, out of the mill or whatever," said Dr. John Grabowski, historian at the Western Reserve Historical Society.

"You could spend the whole day there and, if you had a couple of nickels, ride a few rides. And you could forget what was going on in the outside world," added Joe Tomaro of The Euclid Beach Boys.

In 1910, the Humphrey family, who owned the park at the time, added the carousel. Other attractions would follow and delight park-goers for decades until the amusement park shut down in 1969.

The world had changed on Euclid Beach Park. The trolley cars had stopped arriving. People were driving away to their own vacation destinations. So the Humphrey family reluctantly shut down the rides and sold the carousel up the east coast to Maine's Palace Playland.

RELATED: Restoration of Euclid Beach Carousel moving forward

The carousel would delight new generations of children for three more decades.

But, in 1996, the Playland put it on the auction block. Fans of Euclid Beach Park were determined to buy it back.

"When the first horse went up to the auction block ... it went for $48,750. It set the tone that it was going to be a substantial amount of money to bring that carousel back," said John Frato, president of Euclid Beach Park Now.

When the auction was over, Clevelanders paid $715,000, nearly 100 times the original cost. Fifty-four of the original horses had already been restored, but the ride itself wasn't in working condition. The gears didn't start turning again until 2007, when a dedicated committee found the people who knew just how to make it happen.

"You are giving back to the community a memory. How often do you get to do that?" remarked Dan Jones, coowner of The Carousel Works. The Mansfield company has some of the world's most specialized restoration artists. They reinforced the original center pole and carved and painted the swags and artwork that adorns the carousel. They made sure the machine was turn-key.

Now it's found a home among friends from a different era: The Western Reserve Historical Society.

This part of the museum won't be behind a velvet rope. Northeast Ohioans young and old will line up, waiting to jump on.

"This is the original one that was at Euclid Beach. Very few cities have their original carousel," said Terry Kovel, chairwoman of Cleveland's Euclid Beach Park Carousel Society.

"It's East Side, it's West Side, it's South Side. It's not so much the end of a wonderful project, it really is just the beginning," added Kelly Falcone-Hall, president and CEO of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

The grand opening for the carousel is Sunday, Nov. 23, in the Carousel Pavilion at the Western Reserve Historical Society.


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