Over 22 years, New York artists Jane Walentas lovingly restored a carousel she and her husband David bought in 1984, meticulously chipping away at layers of paint. Her Exacto knife slowly revealed incredible carvings, colorful paintings of scenery and original ornamentation from when it was built in 1922.
To celebrate its 100th anniversary and the hard work Walentas did to transform it, New York City is naming May 7 Jane’s Carousel Day. The Friends of Jane Carousel, the organization that cares for and operates the carousel, will host a lively event that day with a proclamation from New York City Mayor Eric Adams and free rides for the community.
"Jane's Carousel has always been a happy place for sure," said Katie Roth, the executive director of Friends of Jane’s Carousel. "Treasured childhood memories that are made here are so precious and are happening again for another generation of New Yorkers. I think the carousel and the completely outstanding work of Jane Walentas should be honored."
Built in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company for Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio, the carousel is a classic three-row machine with 48 horses and 2 chariots, featuring artful carvings by Frank Caretta, one of the country’s best master carvers. As the first carousel placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the carousel's (PTC #61) horses and chariots are considered among the finest ever made.
According to Roth, every carousel has a lead horse that is more ornate than the rest. Jane's is a white horse decorated with flowers and has "PTC" carved into its saddle. Make sure you look out for it the next time you ride.
Tickets are usually $2 for a three-and-a-half-minute ride on Jane's Carousel. On Saturday, it'll be free from 11am to 6pm and there will be free face painting as well.
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