The historic De Angelis Carousel is now up and operational at Canalside, thanks to the fortitude of everyone involved with the Buffalo Heritage Carousel project. A ribbon cutting was held earlier today, to mark the glorious occasion. And what a glorious occasion it was – we’re talking about years of hopes and dreams coming to fruition, for an visionary project that will capture the imaginations and hearts of Buffalonians (and visitors to this city) for generations to come.
Aside from the historic nature of the project, and the awesome artistic elements, not to mention the painstaking work to salvage, restore, and build a home for the menagerie of antique pieces, there is also the STEAM programming aspect to consider. Moving forward, there will be plenty of interactive learning opportunities that will teach youngsters about the importance of safeguarding the planet.
Years ago, trustee Joan Bozer had a dream to build a carousel in Buffalo. But not just an ordinary carousel. Joan wanted the contraption to be powered by the sun. It was her relentless pursuit to fulfill this dream that ultimately led to today’s ribbon cutting. Along the way, numerous believers and advocates came out of the woodwork to assist in the herculean undertaking – most of those people were in attendance, to watch the carousel as she began to twirl to the sounds of lively organ music.
Leading up to the event, I spoke to Marika Woods Frankenstein (project secretary) who told me that the solar and STEAM aspect of the carousel were the components that separate it from the rest of the carousels throughout the world. “It’s what makes it truly unique and special,” Marika told me. “We’re so proud of the green building design, the high efficiency lighting and HVAC system, and the solar element of course. There are so many local groups and institutions that we will be working with, to demonstrate these capabilities – we’ve been conducting STEAM programming with a number of charter schools, and the Girl Scouts of WNY. Our goal is to entertain, inspire, and educate. This is a national and international experience. We will be hosting lectures about the renewable energies, and how we can go a few steps further. The community engagement is so important to us, whether it’s about the restoration or the environmental components.”
Did you know that:
- The solar roof was donated by Tesla
- The eco components of the Roundhouse are thanks to Principal Architect at Eco_Logic Studios, Kevin Connors
- The cost is $1.00 per ride
- The $5.8 million project was completed with a mix of state funding and private donations.
- Music is provided by a Wurlitzer Carousel Band Organ, Model 153 – plays music scrolls that are integrated with the carousel through computer technology
- Significant project backer and donor Bob Kresse’s “lead horse” can be viewed towards the back of the Roundhouse
- Buffalo is home to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum
- An interactive digital screen tracks the solar usage
- There is an expanded beer garden that leads up to the front door
- The custom designed and manufactured in 1924 by Spillman Engineering in North Tonawanda for Domenick De Angelis
- The attraction sits on a custom-made steel structure manufactured by Carousel and Carvings, out of Marion, Ohio.
- The carousel is also collaborating with Explore & More Children’s Museum
- There is a working miniature carousel in the back of the Roundhouse
During the ribbon cutting ceremony, it was clear that none of this would have been possible without the help of the prior owners/caretakers of the carousel – the De Angelis family. They had the opportunity to sell off the menagerie animals piecemeal, but decided that they wanted to keep it intact, to preserve the legacy of the ride that has its roots in WNY (where it was originally made). There were members of the De Angelis family onhand at the ribbon cutting, to see the carousel standing in all of its glory.
I must say that one of my favorite aspects of the carousel was all of the hand-painted dedications to Buffalo that are proudly showcased. If you look closely, you will see a Pierce-Arrow automobile, some of our Olmsted Parks, Niagara Falls, the grain elevators, and even The STR Americana (sister ship to the STR Canadiana). As I stared at the image of the steamer, poignantly displayed on this newly resurrected carousel (that had been miraculously saved), I couldn’t help but think about some of the missed opportunities that we have been faced with over the years… and what might be next in line for salvation. After all, as Buffalonians, when we put our minds to it, and come together as a community, we are able to be extremely resourceful. The carousel is a wonderful amusement, but it is also a resolute symbol of our capabilities. Let’s keep that in mind as we move forward, or round and round as the case may be.
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with tickets costing $1 per ride.