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Vintage carousel soon to be up and running again at Como Park

An antique carousel that’s housed in the pavilion at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul will be up and running on May 1.

The historic Cafesjian’s Carousel, which dates back to 1914, is in its 14th season at the park, according to city information.

Tamara Beckley, operations manager for Our Fair Carousel, the nonprofit community group that runs the carousel, says the old-timey attraction “adds to the glory of the history at the park. It takes one on a trip back in time.”

For 75 years, the carousel was stationed at the Minnesota State Fair. But in 1988, the carousel was about to be sold, piece-by-piece, to collectors. Our Fair Carousel stepped in then to preserve the iconic carousel, she says.

Over the course of a number of years, Our Fair Carousel gradually restored the carousel, even bringing back the original paint colors on the 68 horses and 2 chariots.

The carousel spent some time at Town Square Park before the group relocated it in 2000 to Como Park.

To keep it going, over 100 volunteers help run the ride throughout the season, and more are always needed, she says.

The volunteer aspect adds to the fun. “It becomes a much more community-involved piece,” she says.  

For Beckley, her recruits, and the nearly 100,000 people who ride the carousel during each season, it’s a chance to be “a part of living history,” she says.

Beckley hopes the carousel will be operational in another 50 years. “How cool would that be if people were still riding it and using it and cherishing it,” she says.

In Europe, far-older carousels are still running. “It’s part of a great tradition of people caring for history and bringing it into the future, to make sure it has a home."

Source: Tamara Beckley, operations manager, Our Fair Carousel
Writer: Anna Pratt


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