Monday, June 17, 2013

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round
75 Years of Fun in Griffith Park

Over the past few days I’ve had the pleasure of taking my Canadian friend to Disneyland a couple of days and then around to see some Disney sights around the Los Angeles, California area. We drove to Burbank and walked around the Disney Studio and saw where Walt Disney wanted to build his “little park” before he decided better and made a much bigger playground for himself, Disneyland. We stopped in at the Carolwood Barn (Walt’s backyard train workshop from his house) and then went a little ways further into Griffith Park to see the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round.

Now you may ask, why check out the Merry-Go-Round in Griffith Park if I’m showing her mostly Disney history? Well, the story goes; Saturday was Daddy Day with the girls for Walt Disney. He was always looking for fun things to do with his two daughters. Often he ended up in Griffith Park sitting on a bench watching his girls ride the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round. He would sit there on the bench and think there should be some “entertainment enterprise” where parents could enjoy having fun with their children instead of just watching them. This is where the dream of Disneyland began.

Today the grand Merry-Go-Round has lost much of its luster. It is in good running condition but much in need of refurbishment. The poor old horses need lots of TLC to bring them back to the grandeur they once had. You can see the beauty beneath the faded and chipped paint and missing “jewels”. The crown panels are missing some of the pictures and the ceiling has some holes. The entire thing is faded.

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round was built in 1926 by the Spillman Engineering Co. It is the only 4 row, all jumping horse Spillman Merry-Go-Round still working today. From 1926-1938 it was on Mission Beach in San Diego. Some of the horses on the Merry-Go-Round date back to the 1880’s All the horses have real horse hair tails.
The music is from the original calliope. Its Stinson 165 Military Band Organ is said to be the largest carousel band organ on the West Coast, with more than 1500 marches and waltzes in its repertoire.

In 1938 it was purchased and moved to Griffith Park where it has entertained generations of children and is still bringing joy to the current generation of children. The Merry-Go-Round was purchased by privet parties in 1984 with the intent of refurbishing it. Slowly it is happening but is slow and expensive. The Merry-Go-Round has to generate the funds for its maintenance and repairs.

Many people have donated time, money and supplies in the process so far. I hope the speed of repairs picks up and this grand Merry-Go-Round is returned to its original beauty. It would be a shame for this piece of history to be lost.

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