CARTHAGE, Mo. —
A Carthage tradition is to get a new attraction by Memorial Day, when a refurbished carousel opens at Kiddieland in Municipal Park.
The Carthage Kiwanis Club bought the used carousel more than a year ago, and volunteers have been refurbishing it ever since. Kiddieland’s amusements also include a train, kiddie cars and airplane rides.
“We hope it will be a new Carthage tradition,” said Ed Hardesty, a Kiwanis Club member who is helping prepare the carousel for operation. “It will be the first new ride since the 1960s, but people have been riding the train out there since 1951.”
The idea for a new ride came from Lee Carlson, club president.
“We wanted to make it more exciting,” Carlson said. “When you go to a carnival, a carousel is the most popular thing.”
Carlson did an Internet search and found a used carousel for $12,000 at Lake of the Ozarks. Others cost about $50,000, which is beyond the club’s budget, Hardesty said.
“We were happy to find one so close, and the price was good,” Carlson said.
Kiddieland is a project of the Carthage Kiwanis Club. Members, as volunteers, maintain the park and operate the rides. Proceeds generated by the park go to children’s charities supported by the organization.
Tom Rogler, who has been involved in Kiddieland and Kiwanis for 38 years, said he often talks with people who take their grandchildren to the park.
“They’ll talk about how they rode rides and brought their kids; now they’re bringing their grandkids,” he said.
Rogler said that while he appreciates that tradition, what he enjoys most is watching the children enjoy the rides.
“Just watching the expression on the kids’ faces when they’re having a good time,” he said. “And, I like that Carthage has a place that parents can bring their kids without breaking the bank.”
Kiddieland is a family tradition, agreed Mark Elliff, president of the Carthage Chamber of Commerce.
“My parents took me there; I took my daughter there, and now, she’s taken my granddaughter,” he said. “It’s one of those things you love about Carthage.”
Carlson said about $14,000 — all donated — has been spent on the carousel project. It was purchased from a couple who bought it from a Florida shopping mall and operated it for several years.
“They’re going to come down and help when we get ready to install it,” he said.
Hardesty, who is heading up the work to refurbish the horses and elements of the ride, said everything should be ready for a kickoff on Memorial Day weekend.
In addition to repainting the fiberglass horses, angel panels and other elements, Hardesty will build a new hardwood floor. The ride had been left outdoors.
The ride also has a gondola seat that is hinged and can be swung to the side to allow someone in a wheelchair to have a space on the ride, Hardesty said.
Money raised for the project included donations from residents who “adopted” carousel horses at a price of $500 for the larger “galloping” steeds and $200 for the smaller stationary ones.
“They’ll have plaques, and the owners can name them,” Hardesty said. “It was just amazing how fast they were adopted.”
Club members still are raising money for a building to protect and secure the carousel. Donations may be sent to the club via Lee Carlson, 721 Euclid Ave., Carthage, MO 65636.
KIWANIS CLUB VOLUNTEERS updated the train and made other improvements at Kiddieland more than a year ago. A ceremony to celebrate that work was planned for the start of the summer season, then was canceled after the Joplin tornado. That work will be recognized this year, along with the new carousel, said Lee Carlson, club president.