Friday, February 18, 2011

Plans to Revive the Forest Park Carousel by Will Sammon - The Queens Courier

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The President of the Woodhaven Resident’s Block Association fondly recalls when his late father used to take him as a child to ride the 100-year-old Forest Park carousel.

Ed Wendell said that many residents who live in the Woodhaven community that hosts the shuttered carousel have similar intimate stories regarding the attraction. He runs a Facebook page that boasts approximately 900 fans to prove it.

“It’s a special share of history. It was some place that my dad used to take me and this carousel is a touchstone for people who not only live here but for those who once did,” said Wendell.

The tradition of passing on stories about the carousel from generation to generation has been put on hold for the past two years. New York One, the company that was in charge of running the carousel allowed it to deteriorate over the years, according to civic leaders. After their contract was up with the city in 2008, they did not re-bid to run the concession, according to the NYC Parks Department.

Since that time, the Parks Department has had no luck in finding someone to run the carousel, mostly because it is not viewed as a money-maker. However, the Parks Department has a new plan for the future of the carousel. Their plan will link its future operator together with the operator of a profitable carousel nearby who benefits from more foot-traffic.

“The Parks Department is currently creating a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the operation of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (FMCP) carousel that will allow the selected concessionaire to also run the Forest Park Carousel. We look forward to receiving proposals to run these two beloved carousels,” said Patricia Bertuccio, a Parks spokesperson.

The FMCP carousel is currently run by New York One, the former operator of the one in Forest Park and a vendor that has several city concessions. Their contract expires in March 2012. After the new RFP is awarded, operation of the Forest Park Carousel can begin right away, according to Bertuccio.

The Forest Park’s 1910 D.C. Muller Bros. carousel is one of two Muller carousels in operation. This carousel features three carved Muller menagerie animals, a lion, tiger and deer positioned on the outside row. These three carvings are the only Muller figures on an operating carousel. The remaining outside row are all standing horses, including ten Muller horses, two Carmel horses and one Dentzel horse. The two inner rows include thirty-six Muller jumpers. Two Muller chariots complete the carousel.

Carousel enthusiasts and historians regard Daniel Muller as one of the elite carousel carvers.

“This is a very, very rare carousel. The Forest Park Carousel with further restoration and future operation would give New York City another rare example of carousel history. The Forest Park carousel, once operating, would join several other rare operating antique carousels in New York City. Together, this group of antique carousels would arguably be the finest in one location of any place in the world,” said National Carousel Association Census Chairman Patrick Wentzel.

Wendell believes that more money would be made if more attractions were built around the Forest Park carousel.