Carousel holds open house

Friends of the Cottage Grove Carousel members Carmen Dowell and Alice Nowicki try the ride for themselves during the open house event. [Photo by Kenneth Michael Roberts]

The long-awaited Cottage Grove Carousel passed another milestone on Friday (Nov. 26) when it opened its doors for eight hours to the public.

“We had an amazing turnout for the open house,” said Friends of the Cottage Grove Carousel President Alice Nowicki. “In fact that was the longest the carousel has ever run. So, it was really great to see that it works so well.”

Nowicki estimated between two and three hundred people came through the open house event, some even right up to closing time.

The event represented a bit of a public stress test for the system, though the carousel passed its inspection on April 16 this year. That stamp of approval verified the carousel’s safety as final touches wrapped up.

The carousel has been housed in the Cottage Grove Industrial Park in the King Estate warehouse since October 2018 when Ed King, CEO of King Estate Winery, offered a portion of his space as a workshop.

Following years of construction and electrical work, the carousel’s certification this April validated all the hard work invested in making sure the carousel was safe and ready for the public.

“So this is the first time that we were able to actually see how it ran and how it operated,” said Nowicki. “And it did amazingly well.”

The open house is the beginning of the process of opening the carousel to the public on a limited basis. 

Full-time operations are not possible at this time due to space considerations and a limited work force. Instead, the Friends of the Cottage Grove Carousel plans to hold an open house once a month, opening up for free rides and gift shopping.

A price list is still being generated as the venue is prepped for party reservations.

The next step after King Estate will be to find a more permanent location for the carousel.

“We went into that position knowing that this is a temporary location — that we have to move on to something else,” said Nowicki. “And we’re at that point where we are considering that and we just haven’t finalized our options yet.”

The 26 months in the warehouse has served as a useful period and location to complete the carousel’s restoration. 

“It’s been a godsend and such a blessing that Ed King invited us to have share that space with them,” said Nowicki. “And we have gotten a lot accomplished that we would not have been able to.”

Around 40 items, which includes all the animals and chariots on the carousel, have been completely restored, repainted and clear coated.

One of the carousel’s funding sources has been local buy-in; there are still animals available for adoption and as well as sponsorship opportunities for parts of the carousel, such as deck pieces and mirrors. The money will go into the maintenance of the carousel.

The next open house is tentatively planned for the end of December between Christmas and New Year’s.

Those interested in sponsorship are invited to the next open house to browse options. It is also possible to make a special appointment for adoption opportunities by calling Project Engineer Russ McGuire at 541-419-6635.

More information can be found on the website at cgcarousel.org.

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