In 1964 and 1965 I attended the New York World's Fair with a couple of my friends from New Jersey, taking a bus and then the subway train to Flushing Meadows in Queens, NY. We marveled at the incredible variety of pavilions and international exhibits at the Fair and took in the fabulous sights along the adventures of the day. One of my favorite places at this event was called Carousel Park at the Lake Amusement Area, a unique site dedicated to the showcasing of a rather beautiful vintage carousel & band organ. The carousel had been assembled from two different structures, a frame built by William F. Mangels for the 1908 Stubbman's Beer Garden Carousel at Coney Island, and masterfully carved horses from Charles Feltman's 1903 Carousel also originally from Coney Island.
A Work of Art & Rare Examples of the Woodcarver's Craft
Feltman's horses were simply splendid specimens of a rare & imaginative art, including 71 horses, 1 giraffe, and 2 chariots decorated and hand-carved with exuberant flair and consummate skill. The horses and other animals were the handiwork of Marcus Charles Illions, a master-carver who had trained at Walter Savage's London wood-carving shop. All of these horses and animals were mated to the William F. Mangels frame, the original 1908 Stubbman's structure which had been rebuilt in 1923.
Military Band Organs & Their Joyous Projection of Sounds
Two military band organs were installed at Carousel Park to provide music for this historically preserved merry-go-round. The Valdkirch was manufactured by the Gabebruder Organ Fabrik in Germany and featured 450 reeds along with woodwind & brass sections. An on-location recording made by Quote Records featured some of the fabulous music offered by these impressive mechanical marvels. Some of the selections offered on this LP album are "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," a couple of waltzes & marches, "In Apple Blossom Time," "Over the Waves," "Light Cavalry Overture," "Sweetheart, Sweetheart," "Beer Barrel Polka," and Rossini's "Una Voce Poco Fa." In this rather atmospheric recording you can occasionally hear an airplane fly overhead and a couple of workman's voices apparently captured by the open microphones. On a good stereo system you can crank up the volume and momentarily relive the the power and joyous projection of these marvelous instruments.
Present Day Location of the 1964-65 NY World's Fair Carousel
A permanent home for this carousel was established at Flushing Meadows/ Corona Park in 1968. A restoration project was begun in 2012 to last the next 10 years. The location is now known as Fantasy Forest with the carousel taking the place of honor in the present Park's magnificently preserved space and design. May riders of all ages continue to savor the beauty of the dazzling lights, the thrill of the regal steeds and the majesty of the band organ's resonant reeds.