Liberty at Olympic Park in Irvington/ Maplewood, New Jersey
The carousel at Olympic Park was named Liberty and quickly became my favorite merry-go-round, one of the primary joys of my early childhood. The Philadelphia Toboggan Co. assembled this carousel in 1914, a masterpiece of the wood-carver's art matched to a European band organ which played delightful marches, popular melodies and light Classical pieces. Liberty served from 1929 until 1965 when Olympic finally closed its doors after completing its final season. This carousel was housed in a beautifully constructed wooden pavilion which sported many small windows and a set of large entry doors.
The large enclosure area inside the pavilion allowed the music to reverberate and resonate amidst the tall wooden rafters, imparting a sense of extravagantly delightful music emanating from a spacious concert hall. The sense of light was almost overwhelming to the visual eye, with thousands of brightly lit bulbs decorating Liberty's impressive exterior. There were paintings and colorful decorations in the inner portion of the carousel and also completely surrounding the upper portion of the superstructure. The horses themselves were marvels to behold, shining steeds in bright and fabulous hues, offering a staggering array of reigns and saddles and decorative accouterments.
Perhaps the most endearing feature of Liberty was its fabulous band organ, a magnificently carved and decorated mechanical musical instrument which played fantastic tunes along with percussion accompaniment and miniature dancers. I always drew as close as I could to feel the brilliant vibrations sounding forth from the rhythmic music, sensing each brush of the cymbal and the thundering power of the bass and snare drums. This was high-spirited music which lifted the listener up to extraordinary realms of palpable joy.