You have to understand: When I see a place like this, there’s no way I won’t stop for it.
The building is one of the first things we see when we drive through the heart of downtown Sandusky. It’s just the sort of unusual thing we’re searching for today. But lunchtime beckons, and so does a glimpse of the water. I make a mental note, and resolve not to leave town before seeing The Merry-Go-Round Museum for ourselves.
So we hit the bistro and the Maritime Museum. (I’ve told you all of this already.) When we finish, we power through the doors of the Merry-Go-Round Museum until we eventually come face to face with this:
I survey the 7’ carving slowly. “Is that…a stork?” I ask aloud.
The boys have already left me to see what else they can find, and GB ambles behind them. I realize then that I’m talking to myself, or at the very least, I’m talking to the painted wooden form of a gigantic bird. That strikes me as funny, but then I look to my left and see this:
And then I look to my right and see this:
Suddenly, the atmosphere takes a dreamlike quality. I wonder half seriously if I’ve fallen into some sort of strange and freakish slumber. When the organ from a working carousel begins to play, I follow the boys to their seats, feeling heady and a bit out of sorts, but that’s not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.
You might not know this, but carousels are almost extinct. One of the only remaining manufacturers—The Carousel Works—is based in Mansfield, OH; and it’s the only firm that designs, carves and assembles under one roof. Given that nobody makes hand-carved Merry-Go-Rounds anymore, and everyone loves a good monopoly, it’s no surprise that a fully-loaded carousel will sell for anywhere between $300,000 and $1 million dollars.
If you ever find yourself at the Columbus Zoo, which boasts a Carousel Works original, you can think about that price tag when you pay for two tickets to ride.
The carousel ride lasts five minutes at least. I try to talk O into riding the baby bunny and H into riding the zebra, but in the end, they go for traditional horses, like this one:
Meanwhile, I’m still struck by the beautiful, slightly oddball carvings:
When we leave, I still have that same vague feeling of otherworldliness. I don’t know how to describe it, so instead I’ll redirect you to The Merry-Go-Round Museum online. You won’t see much beyond what I’ve already shown you here, but you’ll hear a bizarre, fun and uncomfortable little jingle to give you a true flavor of the place. It’s funny and mostly normal, but still just freakish enough to give you pause and question whether you really woke up this morning.
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