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Alive and well 

90-year tradition still revolves in Pueblo

click to enlarge The carousel at Minnequa Park
  • The carousel at Minnequa Park

What do 36 painted horses, one lovers' tub, one chariot and a vintage Wurlitzer band organ make when you spin them around? A carousel, of course. Pueblo's beloved antique carousel makes its rounds every weeknight except Mondays and all weekend long, in Pueblo City Park, for only 25 cents a ride.

"It's a very popular family attraction at an appealing price," said George Williams, keeper of the carousel. Pueblo City Park features not only one of Colorado's five genuine carousels (there are only 132 in the country; another of Colorado's is at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo), but also other rides for children and a vintage train.

"It's basically a break-even situation for the city," said Williams, adding that all the attractions are as inexpensive as the carousel.

The City of Pueblo's Park District 2 bought the carousel in 1939 with the intention of keeping it for good. When the city's Lake Minnequa Amusement Park closed, the merry-go-round had already been part of Pueblo history for 25 years. It's a 1911 model, manufactured by C.W. Parker in Kansas (serial number 72), and first came to Pueblo in 1914.

The carousel is so cherished by the citizens that they restored it completely in the 1980s, raising more than $600,000 for the effort.

"That was more an educational process than anything else," said Williams. "We had to show people that the carousel was unique and endangered, a form of American folk art." With individual donations, in-kind services, grants and "generous community support," the carousel was rebuilt.

"We took the horses right down to the wood," remembers Williams. "New gears, new floors, new rounding boards ..."

Colorado artist Will Morton lovingly reworked the horses. And now, anyone can experience a ride through history, art and Americana just by taking a spin on the carousel.

-- J.N. Nail

capsuleThe 1911 Antique Carousel Pueblo City Park (Take Highway 50 west from I-25 to Pueblo Boulevard. Continue until Goodnight Avenue and park entrance)

On May 29 and 30, historians will be on hand to answer questions regarding the national register carousel.

Open Tuesday through Friday, 6-9 p.m. all day Saturday and Sunday Memorial Day through mid-August; Weekends only mid-August through Labor Day

For more, call Pueblo City Park at 719/566-1745

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