Prairie Village News 8/7/18

Faron Wahl, Manager.

We’re about to take you on a fabulous historical journey. We plan to tunnel back approximately 115 – 120 years, then snugly tie what we discover to an unlikely modern-day story of determination, generosity, and a ticking clock, all with a joyful ending.

And there’s no catch. We won’t reel you in and then leave you unsatisfied with the story’s finale. As a matter of fact, I’m betting most will come away far more enlightened, even sensing a few sprouting goosebumps, than even the most excited of those planning to join us could anticipate.

Besides…. it’ll be free.

This coming Saturday, August 11 at 2:00 pm, we’re offering everyone the opportunity to join us at Prairie Village to welcome home our historic, treasured carousel. Few folks fully recognize the spectacular nature of this original machine’s improbable survival and continued operation. We will take our guests down the path of how it got to this moment, and the people who helped make it all happen.

We’ll share the account of a machine that saw the ushering in of the leisure era in the U.S., a time when amusement rides were a brilliant new concept and certainly all the rage. We’ll weave together how this wonderful artifact, now well more than a century old, saw its beginnings in New York by the skilled and entrepreneurial hands of two guys named Herschell and Spillman, yet somehow landed permanently at humble Prairie Village to live out its years.

Our carousel was, indeed, one of the first plantings at the fledgling historic village sprouting up west of Madison in 1966. It made an appearance at the first threshing show held on these grounds, immediately departed for a commitment elsewhere, then found its way back a month later to become a permanent exhibit here. Precisely 50 years would pass before it would move again, this time, fascinatingly, to Ohio.

Now here we are, our beloved carousel having been painstakingly yet majestically restored over nearly two years’ time, recently trucked back and re-assembled here on the shores of Lake Herman. It currently sits just days from full readiness to kick off the next chapter of its incredible life. And we want you to be part of the story.

By the way, I did mean it will be free. We won’t be charging admission for folks to join us for this celebration, nor will the carousel rides offered after the program carry a fee. Opening our gates and inviting all who will come to the party is our way of saying thanks and spreading the good will and sparkling treasure of this carousel’s legacy.

It all starts at 2:00 with a formal but fun program, followed by a Chamber ribbon-cutting and a pre-established “first ride”. After that, we’ll dismiss to a festive period of free rides, photo-ops, and answering questions regarding the restoration. The carousel will be powered throughout the afternoon by steam, just as it would have been originally when purchased fresh out of a catalog.

It’ll be a dandy afternoon, one that will be looked back upon years from now as a key event in the very history of our ongoing preservation of history here at Prairie Village. I do hope you’ll join us!