POTTSTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – It took almost two decades, but volunteers restored the 108-year-old Carousel at Pottstown and got it back in business for a new generation.
“I had brown hair when this thing started!” joked George Wausnock, the white-haired past president of the Carousel at Pottstown, who helped oversee the huge task of getting the vintage ride rolling.
“There’s not many places you can go and ride a 108-year-old carousel,” said manager Terry Jones.
“This is so special and so nostalgic,” Meisha Johnson said. “I don’t think I’ve sat on a carousel since elementary school. How long did it take to get this up and running again to where you have it today?”
“In physical years, it was sixteen years,” Terry said. The project “involved taking the carousel when they got it with no animals, and rebuilding it – having the animals carved, sanded, painted.”
“Each animal is wood. Not plastic, not fiberglass,” said vice president Bev Reber. “Each one was reproduced as the original carousel.”
“It was a total of nine local artists that painted all fifty animals,” Terry said.
The volunteer team crammed a lot of history inside, creating vintage-style paintings all around the carousel, and rescuing another ride from olden times.
“This is our restored 1850 horse-drawn trolley from Wilmington,” Bev said. “We restored it and made it into our snack bar.”
George, who has been with the project from the start, said the carousel has already had up to 75,000 visitors since it opened in January 2017.
“We have people come here every Sunday, grandparents mainly,” George said, who visit with kids in tow.
Dylan Overholt had a plan: “I know which animal I want to go, which is the zebra.”
“Are there certain ones here you find the kids really gravitate toward?” Meisha Johnson asked Terry.
“Yes. A lot of the younger boys love the deer. A lot of the girls love the giraffes.”
Grace Eichhorn, age 4, is one of those girls.
Meisha said, “You saw the giraffe? Is that the one you want to ride? Why?”
“Because that’s my favorite,” Grace said.
“We have a lot of people who come here to ride it again because they rode it as kids, and it’s great to see the smiles,” Terry said.
Tiffany and Damien Smith rode along with their 1-year-old son, Aaron, a first-time rider.
“He really enjoyed it!’ Tiffany said. “The lights, the being on the horse. He had a good time.”
How fast does the carousel actually go?
“2.17 miles per hour,” Terry said.
“So nobody will walk out with a speeding ticket,” Meisha said.
“Nope, you’re not getting a speeding ticket here, and you’re pretty much going to be able to catch them if they run away,” Terry said.
“You’re speaking my language now,” Meisha laughed.
The Carousel at Pottstown is inside the former Pottstown Metal Weld Building at 30 West King Street, Pottstown, PA, 19464. The site is open Saturdays and Sundays noon to 5:00PM. Cost is $2 a ride, and there are regular specials offering three rides for $5.00.
For events, you can leave a message for the carousel staff at 610-323-6099. Messages are only picked up on weekends.
You can find more information at https://www.carouselatpottstown.org.