Hartford’s Bushnell Park enjoyed an exceptionally crowded Saturday as thousands turned out to celebrate a special birthday.
The huge bash was for the Bushnell Park Carousel, now 100 years old. By 5 p.m., it had lugged more than 2,000 people.
The ride was free, but for people like Elijah Moore, the experience was priceless.
“It was fantastic. My very first ride. It won’t be my last. I will be coming back,” the Bloomfield man said.
The Merry-Go-Round spent 60 years in Canton, Ohio, near Jeanne Ericson’s hometown. It moved to Hartford in 1974.
“It’s a part of my childhood. It really is. I was in high school then. When I heard it was coming here, I couldn’t believe that it was coming to Bushnell Park, so it means a lot to me,” said Ericson, 85. She said she didn’t think twice about coming to what’s dubbed the “Carouselabration.”
While adults reveled in memories, kids made new ones — ones that didn’t involve iPads or cell phones.
“I think it was really fun and I think it was a good idea that they built it,” said Angelica Vazques, a young girl.
The City of Hartford wants that attitude to stay alive year-round.
As part of the Carousel’s 100th birthday celebration, Hartford city council members issued $1 million to heat the building and build restrooms.
Even so, Louise DeMars, executive director of the Bushnell Park Carousel, said they’ll need at least $27,000 more dollars to keep the Carousel in tip-top shape.
A massive restoration is underway. 6 horses are left.
“People are riding them and jumping on and off and they’re changes in temperature and in weather, etc., and ultimately over time, they need to be refurbished,” said DeMars.
That said, after a day filled with jolly music and sweet treats, the old Carousel gained some new supporters.
“I’d be willing to donate myself. I think it’s fantastic,” said Moore.
More information about donations to the Bushnell Park Carousel can be found here or by clicking the hyperlinks above.