MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a historic day at St. Paul’s Como Park as the former Minnesota State Fair carousel turns 100.
Volunteers who maintain Cafesjian’s Carousel threw a centennial celebration Saturday and gave out free rides for a short time.
The original artwork — including 68 wooden horses and chariots that are hand-carved and hand-painted — have been restored.
The milestone anniversary brought out generations of families, reliving fond memories while creating new ones.
“I’ve been riding the carousel since I was two,” said Abby Boehm-Turner. “I obviously don’t remember riding it way back then, but it’s pretty exciting to bring my kids here.”
The carousel debuted at the State Fair in 1914. Eleanor Schultz remembers it well, but she was apprehensive about taking a ride at age of 92.
“I thought, ‘Will I be okay on those horses?'” Schultz said. “I didn’t know, but I thought, ‘Oh, well I’ll take a chance,’ so it worked out real good.”
She’s followed the ups and downs of the carousel over the years.
“When they were going to sell it I was really upset,” she said.
Schultz was part of the group who helped save and restore it. In 1988, the owners took it apart and planned to sell the hand-crafted pieces of art for a hefty price.
Gerald Cafesjian, a generous donor and the carousel’s current namesake, came to its rescue along with hundreds of volunteers.
“If it weren’t for the community all working together it wouldn’t be here,” said Peter Boehm, a Cafesjian’s Carousel volunteer.
Since finding its new home at Como Park, the carousel has had two million riders. The carousel continues to be a special place for people of all ages.
“That’s always been in my heart, this carousel,” Schultz said. “It means something to me.”
The cost to ride the carousel is $2. Volunteers are focused on finding younger people to help run it to ensure that it sticks around a long time.
Click here for more information on the organization and hours of operation.