A citywide celebration of the 105th birthday of the historic Bushnell Park Carousel is scheduled for Saturday, August 24, 2019. Each year we produce a birthday party for the Carousel while increasing the fanfare and frivolity of the event drawing attention to this important jewel in Bushnell Park. The event is planned to begin at 11 am and end at 5 pm with an emphasis on art, education, fun, and the beautiful restoration work done on the Carousel by the New England Carousel Museum restoration artists.
We plan to provide a heightened art education hands-on arts and crafts experience to introduce the public to this unique, vanishing art form. A traditional birthday party theme will run throughout the day offering free Carousel rides all day long and free cake and punch served after 1p.m. In addition, for a nominal fee, there will be fun family activities throughout the day featuring face painting, balloon twisting, train rides around the Park with Woody's Hot Dog Cart providing a lunch opportunity.
The ever-popular Carousel Museum Art & Craft tent run by the Museum educators, will bring hands-on activities for the children as part of the celebration. The CT Woodcarvers Association will be carving throughout the day showing the Art of the Carving and we plan to have costumed characters entertaining throughout the day including Spiderman, and Hello Kitty. Once again, President Harding and his group will join us to celebrate this important milestone.
We are expanding our offerings this year by inviting art and craft vendors to show off their creativity by having their work for sale.
"The Bushnell Park Carousel was created in 1914 by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein, owners of the Artistic Carousel Company of Brooklyn, New York," says Louise DeMars, Director of the Carousel. "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 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.
Stein and Goldstein carved in the Coney Island Style of carving that is decorative and expressive. They made big animals with their ears pinned back, their eyes wide and some even have their tongues hanging out showing you how hard they are working to give you a good ride. Magnificent carving and extraordinary workmanship went into the creation of these animals. Here they are over 100 years later and they are still splendid. "Historic carousels like our Bushnell Park Carousel are an endangered species in the U.S.," notes Ms. DeMars. "We want to encourage people to come enjoy this treasure 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's Carousel's $2-per-ride goes to fund general operations. The City of Hartford and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving also contributes to the general operation of the Carousel and is proud to support this treasure for the community. Carousel lovers may join the Friends of the Bushnell Park Carousel, or the New England Carousel Museum, or a combined membership, which provides unlimited visits to both facilities. Taking a membership, taking a ride or buying a bag of popcorn all help to support the Carousel.