By Jim Ayres
Where do we go from here? Everyone is in the same boat but we can’t decide which direction to row. To keep from going in circles we have to come up with a plan. You’re asking, “What’s he talking about’? I am wondering if it’s safe to open the Carousel or not. We have visited with the Health Department and they have asked us to develop a plan of operation. The Carousel board met last week to try to come up with something that will work. Even, with the cooperation of the Health Department, how do you tell a child that they have to stay six feet away from their grandparent because they don’t live in the same household? Even harder, how do you tell the grandparent to stay away? Hand washing, sanitizing, masks, all seem to add up to a maybe. In addition to social distancing, there are additional sanitation requirements which could take their toll on a hand painted horse. It’s a given that there will be additional labor costs for an already marginal operation. We believe, if at all possible, the Carousel should open this summer. We will be watching the pool closely to see how their plan for social distancing works and hopefully we will open shortly after they do. Currently the pool’s plan is to open this weekend.
You can well imagine how much paperwork and related information we have acquired through the years at the Carousel. I was going through some stuff recently when I came across an old copy of “Merry-Go-Roundup”, a trade magazine for the National Carousel Association. On the cover was Paint, one of the most popular horses on the Missoula carousel. Inside there was an article about the carousel in Boulder, MT. Many of you may not be familiar with the Boulder carousel. The well documented story speaks to the generosity and ingenuity of all the folks in Montana. Dr Arthur Westwell, directed the construction of a small amusement park at what was then called the Montana State Training School. The park was for the entertainment of the disadvantaged and disabled children and adult residents of the school. The main attraction would be a carousel. In 1956 parts of a carousel works were purchased from the Allan Herschell Company. Operating on a very limited budget the schools shop foreman, Harold Jessen, along with other volunteers, constructed the remaining parts and cast aluminum horse bodies. The completed carousel had seatbelts and a device for securing wheel chairs. Now the really cool part, the carousel remains in operation today. They usually have it open during the County Fair. This year that will be August 27-30. I’ll see you there.
To contact the Butte Carousel our phone number is 494-7775 (leave a message). Our mailing address is PO Box 4133, Butte, MT 59702. We are located at 3105 Utah Street. For the most updated information about our hours look on Facebook at Spirit of Columbia Gardens Carousel.