Character in a Carousel

11 Dec 2014, Posted by admin in Packages,Two Bank, No Comments. Tagged , , , ,

Character in a Carousel

Carol Ann’s Carousel, an upcoming addition to Smale Riverfront Park, will feature figurines with Cincinnati ties.

Story and photo by Alana Frew; renderings provided by Carousel Works; video by Cincinnati Parks

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Parks officials traveled to New York and Boston to get ideas for a true, old-fashioned carousel they wanted to build as part of downtown’s Smale Riverfront Park.

But they only had to travel a couple hours north to find the only company in the world that makes wooden carousels.

Carousel Works of Mansfield, Ohio, designed, and is in the midst of hand-carving and painting the 42 animal figurines and two benches for Carol Ann’s Carousel, which will open at the foot of Vine Street on May 16 at the city’s newest park.

The shell of the glass building that will house the carousel is just weeks away from being completely enclosed, with the installation of the carousel set for April 2015, said Steve Schuckman, Superintendent of Planning and Design and carousel project director.

While the majority of the figurines are horses, there are other animals as well, including — of course — a flying pig and cicada. Every figurine will include uniquely Cincinnati images, he said.

“From the start, the Cincinnati Park Board wanted to create a unique carousel that would be all about Cincinnati,” Schuckman said.

The $5.5 million project, paid for by the Haile Foundation and named for Carol Ann Haile, includes a building featuring a skylight above the carousel and glass walls that will afford carousel rides a 360-view of the city and the riverfront. The shell of the building is nearly completed. An indoor pavilion being built below the carousel will be used for private events.

Cost for the two-minute ride will likely be about $2 and park officials are still working out details including hours of operation and rental rates, Schuckman said.

All Part Of The Plan

Smale Riverfront Park’s original master plan, completed in 1998, included a carousel, but park designers didn’t start addressing design concepts for it until 2010.

Over the next several months, the board consulted with ArtWorks, the local art non-profit, to gather ideas from Cincinnatians. The group conducted surveys and lead discussions at libraries, schools and parks, to get as much input as possible.

All of the input stemmed from one big and difficult question: What should be represented in a Cincinnati-themed carousel?

Many of the suggestions for figurines were similar: the Cincinnati Reds, riverboats, Oktoberfest, flying pigs, Union Terminal and city views.

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Construction continues on the building that will house Carol Ann’s Carousel.

They also got peculiar suggestions, with some asking for figurines representing cicadas and Lazarus Lizards, Schuckman said. A boy brought a Lazarus Lizard, or wall lizard, to eastern Cincinnati from northern Italy after a vacation near Milan. He let it go in his backyard and since the lizard has multiplied in Hamilton County, and areas in Kentucky and Indiana, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

After considering public input, the Cincinnati Parks board narrowed their final selection to 44 figurines, all with different poses and characteristics. The two benches – one a riverboat and one a car – will allow for handicapped riders, he said.

Then, Cincinnati Parks created the carousel’s theme: Crown Jewel of the City.

“The key to a successful carousel is putting the theme through every part of the carousel,” said Kate Blakeley, marketing director at Carousel Works.

Hand-Carved and From the Heart

The figurines are meant to highlight the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and traditions of Cincinnati.

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Soap Opera figurine

“It’s neat to have a variety of things to make it more fun,” Blakeley said.

Most of the figurines will feature horses since carousel riders prefer them. One highlights Crosley Radio, originating from Cincinnati, with soap bubbles adorning it to represent the history of soap opera on the radio.

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Pink Pony figurine

Another horse taps into one of Cincinnati’s traditions, Oktoberfest. It is wearing a pair of lederhosen.

Blakeley’s favorite figurine is a performing arts horse, which has a mask and theater glasses.

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Oktoberfest figurine

Schuckman and Blakeley said children prefer scary and unusual animals on carousels. Quirky animals on Carol Ann’s Carousel include a bat with a bedazzled collar and an elephant with a hat that looks like the iconic Elephant House, built in 1902 at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

Visitors will even be able to ride a figurine of the last passenger pigeon, Martha, that died at the zoo 1914.

Jewels and jewel tones will be used throughout the carousel to reflect the carousel’s theme.

Some of the local details, such as the Elephant House hat, will be easy for Cincinnatians to recognize.

Blakeley thinks visitors who won’t recognize the details will enjoy the figurines anyway because they are different.

“You can know everything about Cincinnati or think it looks really cool,” said Blakeley.

Figurines can take from a week to three weeks to carve, depending on the detail and the size of the figurine. Then they take about a week or so to paint.

Blakeley said Carol Ann’s Carousel is one of the most unusual carousels that Carousel Works has ever done.

“There are a lot of details that you work in,” Blakeley said. “You could go back every time and see something new.”

Park’s Next Phase

The carousel is one of the components for the second phase at Smale Park. Still to come: a playground, a water feature adjacent to the carousel and the Vine Street fountains and stairs, similar to the Walnut Street fountains and stairs next to the Jacob G. Schmidlapp Stage and Event Lawn, which were added in the first phase.

By The Numbers

  • $1 Million — Cost of carousel, its carved figures, painting lights and installation.
  • $4 Million — Cost of the carousel’s building.
  • 44 — Number of figures on the carousel
  • 46 feet — diameter of carousel
  • 20 feet — height of carousel
  • Three — Rows of figurines


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