The Grand Carousel at Euclid Beach Park

The grand carousel that was once a landmark at Euclid Beach Park is now in the process of being fully restored and will be re-located to its new home at the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) for its official debut on November 22, 2014 and will be available for the public to ride on November 23, 2014 but we got to see the beautifully restored horses and chariots on Thursday, May 29th at a “behind-the-scenes night” at WHRS and learned the history of the project from John Frato, Terry Kovel and Dr. Ray Rackley who were acknowledged as its key movers while Dudley Humphrey, who was a key fundraiser in this venture, shared his fun experiences growing up at Euclid Beach Park and having a good time doing it.
The grand carousel was originally installed in Euclid Beach Park in 1910 and remained there until the park closed in 1969. Afterwards, it was sold and operated at an amusement park in Maine until that park closed in 1996 and in 1997 it was purchased by Cleveland’s Trust for Public Land for Cleveland Tomorrow who along with the WRHS raised the necessary funds for the restoration of the horse and chariots which were then gifted to WRHS in 1999. Out of the 58 original horses 54 were able to be restored while the remaining 4 were carefully replaced via hand carvings.

Finally in 2010 the Cleveland Carousel Society (in close collaboration with Euclid Beach Park which is now devoted to preserving the park’s history) was established with the goal of returning the Euclid Beach Park Carousel to full operation in the Cleveland area. Margaret W. Wong contributed to this undertaking along with such organizations as the Keybank Foundation, Nordson Corporation, and the Hershey Foundation.

A breakdown of funding shows that the entire project will cost approximately $2 million with $1.5 going towards the construction of the all-glass pavilion at the WRHS that will house the carousel and $500,000 for actual restoration of the carousel which will arrive pre-assembled from the Carousel Works in Mansfield in the first week of November, 2014.

John Frato told us that what is so unique about this project is that this will be one of the very few working antique carousels that will still be in its original city. Not only that, it will make use of its original band organ.

Kelly Falcone-Hall of the WRHS said that riding on the carousel will be the “ultimate interactive exhibit” and Dr. Rackley explained that a key reason for the popularity of carousels was that they were “expressive of the concept of flight” because the rider is moving fast and he/she is off the ground.

Our good friend Ken Kovach walked in and looked at the horses and said softly with a slightly choked voice, “oh, how many times I have riden on these…”

As for Dudley Humphrey, he loved being able to assist with the carousel project but he laughed and admitted that he wasn’t so much into the carousel when he was younger as he was the flying turns ride and even attempted to ride down it with his sled one snowy winter. This didn’t work out so well but his friends rode down it on their bicycles and had quite a thrill. Mr. Humphrey was almost animated as he recalled all of the good times he used to have at Euclid Beach Park that was owned by his family.

Edward Pershey of WRHS said that, more that anything, he wants people to enjoy themselves with the carousel and believes that “it’s going to be wonderful to see people riding on it again!”

Terry Kovel loved going to Euclid Beach Park years ago and said that she mainly hoped that young people today will have a good time riding on the “iconic” carousel because “kids need fun in this day and age”.

John Frato also hoped that the young ones will enjoy it but “they will have to fight me to be the first one on!”