Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Carousels and me

Way back when, I can remember going to Glen Echo, an amusement park in the Washington, DC area. One of the joys of that park was a magnificent old carousel. As you rode it, you could reach out and try to capture a brass ring. I'm sure it could be turned in for a free ride or prizes or some such, but the thrill of actually getting one was enough for me.

During those same years, in my summer hometown of Colonial Beach, Virginia, we also had a carousel on the boardwalk that was the centerpiece of a small area of rides. A small train wound over the grounds along the riverfront as well. There were a few other rides, but those were the two that were most memorable.

Just the sound of the organ-based music takes me straight back to those early years, which was just one reason that a few years ago, I fought so hard to keep the Colonial Beach boardwalk area from being turned into condos. We won that particular battle, though it will be ongoing until someone with foresight actually comes up with a plan to revitalize the area with the kind of nostalgic, family-oriented development that I remember from my childhood.

I was reminded of all this with the publication of my Trinity Harbor trilogy, and most especially of the middle book -- ASK ANYONE -- which pays homage to that old boardwalk and to antique carousels in particular.

Today I had an email from a reader who actually works in a park which has its own Allen Herschel antique carousel similar to the one in my story. I was totally envious, and also thankful that the people in her community and state had the vision to preserve such a treasure and make it available to the public.

I know there are others around the country. If there's a carousel that's been preserved near you, I'd love for you to share the information with us. Tell us where it is. Share your memories of riding on it. Just as important, take your kids to ride on it and let them discover the magic of riding on one of the majestic animals, listening to that distinctive music . . . and reaching for the brass ring.


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