The beloved carousel in Forest Park is finally open after being closed for four years. Pricing & Ticket Info: $1 per ticket - 3 tickets per ride. It is open from 11am-Sunset. (Photo courtesy Woodhaven Residents Block Association)
The Forest Park Carousel, a turn-of-the-century treasure shuttered since 2008, is ready for a whole new generation of riders.
The historic amusement opens its doors to the public on Saturday and the new operators are hoping crowds will come to savor old memories and make some new ones.
“It’s a classic and it’s an awesome ride,” said Ami Abramson, of NY Carousel, which was selected to operate both the Forest Park and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park carousels.
A group of local school kids got a sneak preview on Thursday during a kick-off event at Forest Park.
The carousel, crafted by master carver Daniel Carl Muller, was first brought to Forest Park in the 1970s to replace one that burned down in 1966.
In 1989, it underwent a meticulous restoration but has languished while under the care of previous concessionaires, who griped it generated little revenue.
In the few weeks since the Parks Department gave NY Carousel the nod to operate the site, the improvements are noticeable.
The wood floors has been buffed and a new coat of paint has brightened up the carousel’s interior. Light bulbs were replaced and a new safety gate gives visitors a closer and better view of the galloping animals.
Abramson said the company may add kiddie rides and games.
“We want to figure out what the demand is and what the kids want,” he said. “It has to be done right and done with care.”
Local civic leaders and lawmakers pressured the Parks Department to find a new operator. But Parks officials said they held out until they could find one who would give the carousel the attention it deserves.
“I have a lot of memories here,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, who grew up in nearby Glendale. “Everyone who wanted this re-opened now needs to come out and support it and not just for one day.”
Abramson said the carousel will expand from weekend to weekday hours when school ends in June. He is also planning free kids entertainment on the grounds, including music and puppet shows.
“It’s so good to have our jewel of Forest Park back,” said long-time carousel booster Maria Thomson of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp.
Ed Wendell of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association, who started an aggressive campaign to re-open the carousel, said he is convinced the new operators will take good care of the carousel.
“Today, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief,” he said.
Photo: Attiyya Anthony