Friday, December 16, 2011

When Pigs Fly! A Civic Treasure Gets a Stunning Face Lift

These days, can a dad take his family out for a fun filled escape and pay a pittance for it? And, after it's said and done, the kiddies think he'd paid a fortune for the outing? Ha! When Pigs fly! 
Well, the pigs are flying at Pullen Park, a small public park that lies next to the NC State campus in downtown Raleigh. The pigs are just one animal couple in the dancing menagerie at home in the newly refurbished carousel. The carousel is the focal point of the park which has received a face lift and, after $12 million and three years, has reopened to throngs of impressed and pleased families from all parts of the Triangle.
In an era of  huge, out scaled attractions featuring over-hyped megabranded cartoon and movie characters, the park is blessedly free of any of those things. To exhausted parents, this is a HUGE benefit. The park is so small that a family can "do" everything in under an hour without walking far at all. However, they can then retreat into wooded meadows to throw a football or unpack their picnic in peace. A harried mom and dad can actually leave an afternoon at Pullen Park more rested than when they arrived! But how did such a great civic asset in such an idyllic setting come about?
Raleigh's Pullen Park is actually the 14th oldest amusement park IN THE WORLD. Over a century ago, 80 acres of land were donated to the city for use as a public park. Then, in ensuing years, Raleigh purchased a grand carousel from a defunct amusement park in the Five Points area of Raleigh. Today, the carousel is recognized as one of the foremost surviving examples produced by the Pennsylvania Carousel Company, founded by Gustav A. Dentzel. These carousels are usually referred to as Dentzel carousels and only around a dozen remain in North America. For example, art deco marvel Glen Echo Park in Washington, DC has another.
What's most striking about it are the lively, imaginative animals that riders hop upon for their ride. There are over fifty hand-carved wooden animals, the work of turn-of-the-century carver Salvatore Cernigliaro. In addition to many beautiful horses, the Pullen Park carousel also includes ostriches, cats, rabbits, pigs, a lion, a tiger and a goat. There is even a leaping stag complete with a proud set of antlers! A mechanicalWurlitzer band organ originally provided music but lively carnival tunes still surround the twirling, whirling contraption.
There were never many amusements at this amusement park; just a few, mainly for kiddies. The miniature train ride dates from 1950 and succeeds in carrying new generations scenically around the park. Its newly painted cars are gleeming red while steam billows out the real, steam driven whistle. To adults used to big amusement park thrills, it may prove to be a short, slow ride. Yet, to small children, the miniature train must seem like an incredible trip over bridges, by lakes and through dark tunnels.

I shy away from the word 'cute' but I guess that it applies to the tiny little kiddie ride that also dates from around 1950 and is positioned where it always has been next to the kiddie train station. The power boats are small in scale but big in style! -Give me a 3X version in that beautiful red, white and blue color scheme please!


Anonymous said...

What is the number for customer service? I need to renew my subscription to Trailer Trad magazine.

Trailer Trad said...


This is Customer Service. Your subscription to Cat Fancy magazine is set to expire. Re-up now!

Anonymous said...

Is it too late to order Trailer Trad merchandise in time for Christmas delivery?

Trailer Trad said...

Glad you asked!

Trailer Trad is proud to offer overnight delivery of our new head-to-toe Harris Tweed lay around, lounge around smash hit 'The Hot N' Itchy!'

Made of ten yards of Outer Hebrides wool and available in your family's ancestral tartan, it's sure to keep you toasty warm at the next college football tailgate. Order right now and receive the hidden, sewn-in flask pocket absolutely free!