By Jo Ellis
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
This past week, Kiwanis Club members were treated to a program showing the reconstruction of the children’s carousel, which opened this summer in Kiddieland at Carthage Municipal Park. The club raised about $35,000 for the project, the first new amusement ride added to Kiddieland since the 1960s.
The carousel parts were purchased from a couple who had operated it at Bagnell Dam at Lake of the Ozarks. While the horses and electrical parts had been kept in storage, everything else had deteriorated. The flooring warped, and paint was chipped and faded because the ride had been left outside in the weather for four years.
Ed Hardesty, a newcomer to Carthage and the Kiwanis Club, was asked to spearhead the restoration based on his 35 years as a contractor and his career as a firefighter. Many club members, along with high school Key Club members, were volunteers in the effort. Hardesty took numerous photographs of the work, which involved scraping, sanding and painting, along with carpentry, concrete and electrical expertise.
The 22,000-pound carousel (without riders) is seated and bolted to four 36-inch deep footings to ensure its stability. After the concrete pad was poured, the metal center pole and eight arms were erected with the help of Dick Baugh’s boom truck, a few moments ahead of a lightning storm, much to Hardesty’s relief. He said research revealed that the engineering method of hanging everything from a center pole was used on carousels as far back as 500 B.C.
Hardesty said that when he looked at all the dismantled parts at the beginning of the project, he asked himself, “What did we do?” But, he added, “It kind of made sense as we went along.” He said he did many “happy dances” as each step was completed. A metal-clad octagonal roof cover, built by Joplin Truss, was finished after dark to protect the restored carousel before an impending rainstorm. Out of 320 light bulbs on the light bars, only two sockets did not work. The ride opened a week after Memorial Day.
Hardesty narrated the slide show while standing with crutches, proving that timing is everything. Barely two months after completing the carousel reconstruction, he was again volunteering in his capacity as a member of Broadview Country Club’s house committee. He had bought a new 30-foot extension ladder for use in removing some dead tree limbs on the club’s property. Climbing to the top with a chain saw, he turned frontward on the ladder to improve his access. As the limb was cut, it fell on the electric cord powering the chain saw, and he was pulled off the ladder.
“I knew I was in trouble,” Hardesty said.
He had been working alone, and although he was seriously injured, he managed to call 911. He was taken immediately to Freeman Hospital West in Joplin. He had lost close to a third of his body’s blood. He suffered a broken nose, teeth, right elbow, right wrist and femur. Surgeons realigned his face and rebuilt his nose the first night. He was in intensive care for two days. He has a titanium rod in his thigh and nine in his face. After returning home, he discovered he also had two broken ribs.
“I had an excellent medical team,” Hardesty said. “Everybody treated me wonderfully.”
He still has the ladder, but he also has bought a harness. “If you tell a fireman, ‘I don’t think it can be done,’ it will get done,” he said.
The Kiwanis Club is raising money to build protective covers over other rides. A circus event is slated for Dec. 5 at the junior high school. Performances will be at 6 and 8 p.m. There will be clowns, jugglers, a dog-and-pony show and a bullwhip act, with a local ringmaster featured. Advance tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children. The highlight of the show will be a visit from Santa Claus. The club will receive one-third of the proceeds.
And I suspect that “Titanium Guy” will be at those performances, volunteering again.
Address correspondence to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email email@example.com.