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Hartford’s Bushnell Park Carousel Opens June 28

100th birthday year will feature July 26 party with free rides.

Credit: Barbara Bresnahan, www.flickr.com/photos/barbbres/9584971690/in/photolist-fAZu9A-fAZxUC
Credit: Barbara Bresnahan, www.flickr.com/photos/barbbres/9584971690/in/photolist-fAZu9A-fAZxUC

Bushnell Park press release:

The Bushnell Park Carousel in Downtown Hartford, CT. will open for the 2014 season Saturday, June 28 at 11 a.m. At only $1 per ride, six days a week, the 100-year-old attraction is one of fewer than 200 antique wooden carousels that remain in operation in the U.S. — down from thousands at the turn of the century.

One month later on Saturday, July 26, the Bushnell Park Carousel will host a “100th Birthday Celebration” with family entertainment and free rides all day. The special event will take place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and feature a variety of activities, including a face painter, a balloon twister, music, miniature train rides around Bushnell Park, a bounce house and costumed characters to entertain visitors. At 11 a.m., the event will kick off with a pull of the reins and a loud “Giddy Up” yelled by the crowd.

“The Bushnell Park Carousel is one of Downtown Hartford’s great treasures,” said Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra. “Over the past few years, the New England Carousel Museum has been carefully and lovingly restoring each of the 48 horses and two chariots to bring the carousel to its grandeur of 100 years ago. We invite everyone to come and take a spin at its 100th birthday party or any time of the season.”

“Historic carousels like our Bushnell Park Carousel are an endangered species in the U.S.,” explained Louise DeMars, executive director of the New England Carousel Museum of Bristol, CT, which manages the carousel for the City of Hartford. “We encourage people of all ages to come enjoy this cultural jewel and learn about its unique history and art. If people begin caring and supporting Hartford’s carousel today, then it can be still be around for their great-grandchildren to enjoy in the future.”

The Bushnell Park Carousel was created in 1914 by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein, owners of the Artistic Carousel Company of Brooklyn, New York. It is one of only three Stein & Goldstein carousels left in operation in the U.S. that still provides rides for the public. The carousel features 36 jumper horses (going up and down), 12 standers (stationary horses), two chariots and a newly refurbished Wurlitzer 153 band organ. It operated outside of Albany, New York until 1940 when it moved to Meyers Lake Amusement Park in Canton, Ohio, where it gave hundreds of thousands of rides to children of all ages. In 1974, Hartford’s Knox Foundation brought the carousel to Hartford as part of the revitalization of the downtown area.

The Bushnell Park Carousel is available for birthday parties held during public hours in the "Carouselabration Station" areas. It can be rented for receptions, weddings and special events, and for photo opportunities such as wedding photos. Carousel lovers can join the Friends of the Bushnell Park Carousel, the New England Carousel Museum, or a combined membership, which includes free rides on the Bushnell Park Carousel and unlimited visits to both facilities. Becoming a member, taking a ride or buying a bag of popcorn all help to support the carousel.

The Bushnell Park’s Carousel’s $1-per-ride fee goes to fund general operations and ongoing refurbishing of the horses and the pavilion itself. The City of Hartford also contributes to the general operation of the Carousel. Hours of operation are: Tuesdays through Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is inside an enclosed pavilion, and closes only during severe weather. The Carousel also is open during selected special events in Bushnell Park. For more information about the Bushnell Park Carousel or to donate to help the Carousel’s restoration process, including the Adopt-A-Horse campaign, call (860) 585-5411 or visit www.thecarouselmuseum.org.

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