Posted December 15, 2014 at 2:00 PM by Amanda Frentz
The City Park Carousel chariots returned to the Park Friday, December 5, 2014, after being fully refurbished for the first time in 30 years. Instead of painting them a solid color, the craftsmen from WRF Designs led by Bill Finkenstein, painted them multiple colors in order to bring out the detail in the carving. The craftsmen also painted flowers on the back of the chariot. They are truly a site to see. Visit them at Celebration in the Oaks through January 3rd then again after February 28th when Carousel Gardens opens for the Spring.
Pictured: Bill Finkenstein
A moment of smiles: Bill Finkenstein and family have been taking care of our Carousel for over 35 years. He takes great care in restoring our Flying Horses due to all the love they receive through the year. This year Bill shared a moment with us: “I was showing a field trip of 6 year olds around my workshop. One little girl raised her hand and said, ‘When I grow up, I want to do what you do.’ Her dad said to her, ‘Honey, I thought you wanted to be an architect like me?’ And the little girl said, ‘Dad, you build buildings, but he builds smiles.”
And we know the Carousel does indeed bring smiles to people of all ages.
The Carousel’s major restoration began in 2014 and will end in 2015. A big portion of that restoration is because of City Park's right arm, Friends of City Park.
The Carousel is often called the ‘Flying Horses’ by New Orleans locals.
The Carousel is the oldest ride in the Hines Carousel Gardens Amusement park. It dates back 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.
The Carousel has had a few owners in its history including Harry Batt, Sr. Locals may remember Mr. Batt from Pontchartrain Beach. In the late 1980s, 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 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 1 to 2 years. They are still hand painted.
-The Carousel contains fifty-six animals. 53 are horses plus a lion, giraffe, and camel. There are also 2 chariots for riding.
-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.