The quest to bring the historic Euclid Beach Carousel back to life has had its ups and downs, but in the end, the generosity of donors prevailed. The Euclid Beach Carousel Society
raised $1.6 million for the project, which will spring into motion on November 22nd in a beautiful new glass pavilion at the Western Reserve Historical Society
"We've gotten donations from people all over the country who remember Euclid Beach, and a lot of really strong support here in Cleveland," says EBCS Chairwoman Terry Kovel. "We say, 'Euclid Beach' and people smile."
Some supporters may, in fact, find the horses more animated than they bargained for. "Our biggest problem is that nobody believes us when we say: you're going to be able to ride the horses," says Kovel. "They think it's a museum exhibit that's going to just stand there."
The confusion presented a quandary for the group as they prepared for the Nov. 22nd donor thank you party. "We had quite a time deciding how to write our invitations," she says. "We finally said, 'cocktail attire—but be prepared to ride a horse.' We had visions of women coming in really short dresses or really tight dresses."
The event will mark the eve of the carousel's grand opening
to the public on Nov. 23rd. Until then, festive replica horses dot the front lawn of the WRHS.
One point of pride in the project is less obvious than the glorious galloping horses.
"It's a very green building," says Kovel, adding that the carousel will rotate slowly all night long and will be illuminated. "The power needed to keep the carousel lit and running at night is the equivalent to that of a 60-watt light bulb."
The 1910 carousel was a key attraction in the legendary Euclid Beach Park. When the park closed in 1969, the ride was sold to Palace Playland in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where it operated until 1996. When the ride became available for sale in the late 1990s, the Greater Cleveland Partnership (formerly Cleveland Tomorrow) partnered with the Trust for Public Land and the Ford Foundation, and got the beloved ride back to Cleveland.
"They gave the horses to the Western Reserve Historical Society," says Kovel, whose husband Ralph was on the WRHS board of trustees at the time and tried relentlessly to get the organization to install the carousel. "He tried and tried," says Kovel of Ralph's efforts, "but (the board) kept voting him down. When he died, I decided—with some of his friends—that we had to do something."
That was six years ago. Thanks to the efforts of Kovel and others, something was done, with WRHS as a key partner. Now visitors from Greater Cleveland and beyond will be able to reap the benefits when the carousel reopens.
To learn more, you can visit Fresh Water's past coverage of the carousel here