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VOL. 132 | NO. 227 | Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Magic Of Carousel Horses Returns to CMOM

By Bill Dries

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The first horse on the restored Memphis Grand Carousel was a “jumper” – a horse that moves up and down, as opposed to a “stander” that doesn’t move.

The white pony with a black, thick wooden mane was the first of 48 horses to be installed Tuesday, Nov. 14, as the 1909 carousel is prepared for a Dec. 2 grand opening at the Children’s Museum of Memphis.

“This is the beginning of the home stretch,” said Art Davis, CMOM’s chief operating officer.

The other horses lay on their sides in an area outside the main room built specifically for the carousel, which was a long-time feature of the Fairgrounds even before there was a Libertyland theme park.

The museum is still holding fundraising events for the carousel and ballroom as well as a larger campus expansion of CMOM at the corner of Hollywood Street and Central Avenue.

The arrival of the horses earlier this month gives potential donors something material to see.

“To be able to see something that everyone has worked on so hard and so painstakingly for the last couple of years … that’s what I’m looking forward to is just being able to see people my age who have memories of the carousel, but to also see the young children who are going to create new memories,” Davis said.

He and other CMOM leaders traveled to Carousel Carvings in Marion, Ohio, to see the restoration of the wooden figures, repainted to their original color scheme.

“I was amazed – the talent that it took to get down to the original wood and then to come up with the color scheme,” Davis said. “It was a long, painstaking process. The visual effect of it is unimaginable.”

One side of the ballroom Tuesday there were panels that were intricately carved, but did not have the shine the restored horses did. The panels are also from the original carousel, but were judged to be too delicate for restoration. They may be on display as a way of showing those who come to the facility what the carousel looked like just before the restoration process.

One of the two original chariots is not returning to the carousel. It will instead be used for photo opportunities nearby. It will be replaced with a new chariot made to look like the originals that will have features allowing those with disabilities to also ride the carousel.

The area around the carousel will also be changing in the coming weeks – an entrance reception area will be created that looks like a horse stable.

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