Photo: The Forest Park Carousel, built in 1903, will start up its 2015 season this Memorial Day weekend. File Photo.
Memorial Day weekend has long been considered the unofficial start of summer. This year’s holiday weekend features an added attraction: the official opening of free entertainment at the renovated Forest Park Carousel.
Constructed by William Dentzel and crafted by master wood-carver Daniel Muller more than 100 years ago, the Carousel boasts three rows, 36 jumping horses, 13 standing horses, a lion, a tiger, a deer, two chariots, and an A. Ruth & Sohn organ.
According to the city Parks Department, Muller created figures for 12 carousels in his lifetime. However, according to Forest Park Carousel operator New York Carousel, many of Muller’s carvings were either destroyed or the carousels were broken up and the animals were sold off individually. Forest Park’s is one of only two that remain.
In October of 2013, the Carousel was designated a city landmark—making it the only functioning carousel that is also an official landmark. Today, only four other city parks operate carousels: Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Central Park in Manhattan, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and Willowbrook Park in Staten Island.
This past winter, the attraction had to be taken apart, virtually piece by piece, in order to complete the process of replacing most of the old bearings and gears.
Tucked inside massive Forest Park, the Carousel opened inside the 544-acre green space in 1973, after arriving from Massachusetts. It isn’t the park’s first carousel. In 1966, a carousel burned to the ground in a fire.
In 2009, the Carousel closed, “disappointing the families in the neighborhoods surrounding Forest Park,” the operator recalled. It reopened three years later on Memorial Day weekend. A refurbishment process was announced at the time, and is expected to span a decade.
“It will ensure that the Carousel runs for future generations of New Yorkers,” the operator said.
Forest Park Carousel ticket prices: one ticket is $3; two are $5; 10 are $23; and groups of 10 or more are $2.25 per rider.
In addition to the Carousel, historic Forest Park features the George Seuffert, Sr. Bandshell, a bridal path, tennis courts, playgrounds, a golf course and Victory Field. Originally known as Brooklyn Forest Park, it was incorporated into greater New York with the consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898. At that time, according to the city, the Brooklyn Parks Department managed parks in what is now all of Queens and Brooklyn. It wasn’t until 1911 that an independent Queens Parks Department was established for the borough.
By Michael V. Cusenza email@example.com