The carousel that generations of Ocean City visitors rode in their quest to grab the golden ring and win a free ride is now the centerpiece of a proposed new arts and education center in Buffalo, Wyo.
The carousel (or merry-go-round, as most in these parts know it) was part of Gillian's Fun Deck from 1929 to 1987, when the ride was auctioned to make way for the water park that opened in 1988.
"Just thinking about this brings back great memories of working on that ride," said Mayor Jay Gillian, whose grandfather founded Gillian's Fun Deck. "My brothers and I would put it up and take it down every year. They really were the best times of my life."
The Cowboy Carousel Center is working on a promotional video about the history of the carousel and is seeking images of it while it was still in Ocean City.
If you have photographs or videos of the carousel, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arnette Tiller of the Cowboy Carousel Center in the Bighorn Mountains region of eastern Wyoming said the center is in the process of restoring and moving the carousel to a new home, where it will be the centerpiece of a community event center.
Tiller said the center will post the video on YouTube, Kickstarter and other media. The center is also seeking small (or large) donations that can be made through PayPal at cowboycarouselcenter.org. More information on the project is also available at the website.
Tiller said the carousel is largely the same as the original from Ocean City — with the exception of the horses, which have been replaced to reflect the history of the region, including the Battle of Little Bighorn.
The center's website offers the following history of the carousel:
The Cowboy Carousel, manufactured at North Tonawanda, New York in 1925, ran for 63 years on Gillian’s Fun Deck in Ocean City, New Jersey. The horses that are now on the carousel are fiberglass reproductions of original wood carvings by local renowned Buffalo artist and wood carver, Bill Jennings.
This carousel is important, therefore, historically as a 1925 Spillman Carousel and artistically, as a carousel restored with horses and figures carved by a noted local artist. As such, it would be an important cornerstone to Buffalo’s historic district and an important cultural part of Buffalo’s history that would be preserved. Add to this that carousel’s are much beloved and a major tourist attraction.
The lead horse on the carousel is painted to represent Steamboat, the famous Wyoming bucking horse. Steamboat bucked at Cheyenne Frontier Days from 1903 to 1914 and was ridden twice in his career. The Indian pony is Little Soldier, a pony ridden by a Crow scout at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The Indian symbols painted on the pony represent various Indian signs to assist the horse in battle. The Seventh Cavalry horse, complete with authentically carved McClelland saddle and U.S. Cavalry issue bit, is painted to represent Comanche. Comanche was ridden by Captain Miles Keogh at the Battle of the Little Big Horn who was the sole survivor of General Custer’s immediate command.
The Spillman Carousel has been restored as closely as possible to its original colors. A picture of this machine in its original condition hangs in the Smithsonian Institute. The Cowboy Carousel is now an important part of Buffalo’s history. Because of Emerson Scott’s vision, this historic carousel came to Buffalo. And because of Emerson’s wonderful vision, he had a great local artist create the first and still only truly Western Cowboy Indian Carousel based on historic details.
This is a treasure worth preserving and making an active part of our community. Help us save it, make a great new home for it, and in doing so become an important part of Buffalo’s history.