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VOL. 130 | NO. 22 | Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Libertyland Carousel To Return in 2017

By Bill Dries

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When the Memphis City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 3, gets its second briefing in as many weeks on the proposed overhaul of the Mid-South Fairgrounds, they will hear from Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration that the mothballed Grand Carousel from the old Libertyland amusement park is about to be uncrated and reassembled as part of the Children’s Museum of Memphis.

It should be refurbished, reassembled and open to the public on the museum's front lawn in two years.

The carousel has long been a part of the administration’s tentative plans for the Children’s Museum, which is on the southwest corner of the fairgrounds property – at Central Avenue and Hollywood Street.

The terms of the agreement announced late Monday are that the museum has already raised the private funding to refurbish the carousel itself over the next two years, according to the administration.

The museum has another capital campaign underway to build a glass building on the museum's Central Avenue frontage to house the carousel, also according to the adminstration.

Wharton's office puts the restoration work on the carousel at $1 million and the work on the glass house at $3 million.

In its statement, museum leaders said there are no specific cost estimates on either part at this point.The museum's fundraising efforts will include naming rights on the 48 horses and two sleighs on the carousel.

By the museum's timeline, design and construction on the project should be completed by this fall.

The restoration work will be done by Carousels and Carvings of Marion, Ohio with a goal of the carousel reopening to the public in 2017.

Once the Carousel is back up and running, school groups will ride for free and low income families will also have access to the museum free of charge through the "Yes To Every Child" program

The Grand Carousel was dismantled in 2009, approximately 100 years after it was created. Its first stop in Memphis in the 1920s was the old East End Amusement Park in Midtown.

After its move from the East End, it became part of a set of rides at the fairgrounds long before Libertyland opened in 1976.

The carousel’s hand-carved and painted wooden creatures and bright and elaborate foundation were crated as Libertyland, which had closed four years earlier, was demolished in the development of Tiger Lane from the East Parkway entrance of the fairgrounds to the western side of Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

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