I’m one of four girls, no boys, so when I first heard of the carousel in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park I immediately thought of my sisters. Perhaps because of them and our ‘March sisters’ comparisons growing up (no one wanted to be Beth right? So sweet and passive) how Victorian dream come true this would be for my three-year-old daughter. If only Ayah was a few years older, they could go together in little matching leather boots.
We heard the music first, tinkering through the bush, as we wound our way through the park, asking locals for directions. It was literally like the carousel stood in a pool of golden light when it finally appeared ahead of us in the clearing.
Originally carved by Charles Carmel in 1912 (apparently one of the leading carousel designers at the time; apparently there was a carousel heyday!), the 53 animals (predominantly horses) were restored back to their former glory in 1990.
As Little T sat on a black horse named Morgan and went round and round and round, bobbing her serious face to the Wurlitzer band organ, I could almost hear the little girl narrative playing out in her head. A story that probably involved horses with flowing manes and ribbons and dresses and having long hair and lots and lots of other little girls all together. I wished I could transport my three nieces from New Zealand and place them up there beside her.
Apparently the other little girls on the carousel were running a similar silent film as they stared out dreamily into the distance, riding the air currents with their hands.
This turned out to be a peak moment for Little T in New York and we have since gone on a carousel binge. In the month and a half since, she has ridden the carousels at Central Park; Bryant Park; Jane’s Carousel at Brooklyn Bridge Park and all of those on offer at Governor’s Island’s Fete Paradiso, more than once.
Probably the most impressive of all is Fete Paradiso: a traveling festival of vintage French carousels and carnival rides from the late 1800s, early 1900s that have been restored to working order. Pink and green boat swings made of metal and wood, a rare bicycle carousel, a couple of old fashioned chain swings and really friendly and charming staff in their navy and white stripes and red lips, make it worth the boat trip.