When we think of carousels, we think of the beautifully designed horses, with golden metal poles mounted down the center and accompanied by circus music. Since the early 1800’s, carousels are all about the children, laughing as they go round and round and have been a huge part of American history. While there are many designs to carousels, the idea of a carousel has been around for centuries before America even existed. So, to observe the fine-tuned history of carousels, Carousel Day is a day just for that! So strap in and enjoy the ride on an American pastime.
History of Carousel Day
One of the first conceptual design for a carousel was in in 500 A.D. in the Byzantine Empire, which depicts baskets, carrying riders, suspended from a central pole. Then, In the 1840s, Franz Wiesenoffer created the first merry-go-round in the United States in Hessville, Ohio. Then, Bette Largent, President of the National Carousel Association, and carousel historian, Ronald Hopkins founded National Merry-Go-Round Day in 2014. Also called Carousel Day, it was formed to honor William Schneider of Davenport, Iowa who, due to patenting the carousel in 1871, is considered the official inventor of the modern carousel by the U.S. Patent Office.
The National Carousel Association, operating since 1973, aims to keep carousels running and preserve their history in the United States. Since then, the NCA tracks the history of carousels all around the United States in its census. The NCA is a non-profit organization and accepts donations to help keep carousel history alive. The NCA also has a census, a giant data collection of carousels all over North America, keeping track of vintage and modern carousels, as well as repairing old carousels to keep them functioning. Every year, the NCA hosts a convention called The New England Carousel Revolution, where people travel around in buses all over the New England area to check out vintage carousels in parks, museums, and boardwalks.
How to Celebrate Carousel Day
According to the NCA census, there are hundreds of registered carousels in the United States. In fact, chances are there is carousel hiding your neighborhood just waiting to be discovered. Celebrate this holiday with a visit to your local fair by checking the national census on the NCA’s webpage. Also, check your local area for county fairs or amusement parks and head on out there. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of your local carousel, find out by contacting your local directors and asking them about it. Take your kids to the local fair, or if you don’t have kids, ride one yourself. Go out there and have fun!