The New Orleans City Park Carousel

The Carousel ride is often called the ‘Flying Horses’ by New Orleans locals. The Carousel is the oldest ride in the William B. Hines Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. It dates to 1906 but some of the animal figures date back to 1885. The Carousel was originally located on a track of land along City Park Avenue. The Carousel was moved to its current location in 1928, creating what would eventually be City Park’s Amusement Park. Staff took one full year to roll the Carousel building on wooden logs to the new location.

The Carousel has had a few owners in its history including Harry Batt, Sr. Locals may remember Mr. Batt from another local landmark, Pontchartrain Beach. In the late 1980's, William B. Hines loaned Friends of City Park $300,000 to purchase the Carousel from Harry Batt and an additional $50,000 to renovate the Carousel. (Eventually, Mr. Hines forgave all loans. The William B. Hines Carousel Gardens Amusement Park is named for him).

The animals were carved and hand painted by Charles Looff and Charles Carmel.

-The Looff animal figures contain faux gem/glass stones and are the older of the two types of animals (older than the Carmel animals).

-The animals are loved so much by visitors they need repainting every year to 2 years. They are still hand painted.

-The Carousel contains fifty-four animals. 53 are horses plus a lion, giraffe, and camel. There are also 2 chariots for a more stationary ride.

-The horses have real horse-hair tails.

-Thirty of the horses move up and down and are called ‘flyers’ (thus the Flying Horses nickname).

-The Carousel still uses the original motor.

-The circular platform on which the animals ‘ride’ is suspended off the ground by 40 metal rods.

-The lion weighs 500 lbs.

-A few movies have been shot in the Carousel.

-The Carousel is only one of 100 hand-carved carousels remaining in the United States and the only one in Louisiana.

-The animals are a type of 'time capsule' - carvers and workers have placed items in the wooden bodies like coins, notes, and photos. 

-The carousel has been taken care of by the same family company for over 40 years. 

Post originally posted 8/9/17 and updated on 7/24/20