My favorite carousels as a child lived at Euclid Beach Park about eight miles West of Cleveland, Ohio.cedar downs racing derby

Euclid Beach Park was built in 1895, and even in the 1950’s it had the feel of amusement parks from old movies. Cedar Point, which opened in 1870 in Sandusky, Ohio, still had some remnants of the original, and is the second-oldest amusement park in the country. After Disneyland opened in 1955, Cedar Point started to become a ‘modern’ park, with all the latest bells and whistles. Always fun, but not the same as Euclid Beach. A visit to Euclid Beach was like stepping into another time, with the best wooden roller coaster ever, a real ‘penny arcade’ (think Zoltar from the movie “Big,” ) and the most wonderful carousels. It was magical.

The traditional carousel, Philadelphia Toboggan Company Number 19, officially; has through the years, resided in Orchard Beach, Maine, then returned to Cleveland for restoration. Hopefully, it will be up and running again by 2013.

A beautiful carousel it was, but the ride of my dreams was The Great American Racing Derby.

A huge (90 ft. In diameter) carousel with racing horses that looked like horses. As much as I love the beauty and artistry of the fantasy carousel horses, it was the realism of the Derby that had me dreaming. The four-abreast horses, with no poles, moved back and forth along a short track as the carousel rotated. The ‘winner’ received a prize, I believe it was a free ride. This was not a ride for the smallest of children who waited every year to be tall enough, it was fast. The outside horses were said to reach 25 mph.

Euclid Beach was closed in 1969. The arched entrance to the park still remains and is a Cleveland landmark. The Derby? It was moved to Cedar Point in 1967 and is known as Cedar Downs. The Cedar Point news releases say that the carousel is in it’s original housing and travels 15 mph. The photos of the carousel today are pretty, and so are the horses with brightly colored saddles. My memories will always be of the browns and blacks on the horses of my childhood that led me to believe I was ‘National Velvet.’

Penelope Noll writes for the blog: Another Blogging Artist Journal

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