Idora Park Carousel
By Vince Guerrieri
(article used by permission)


In 1899, an amusement park was built at a picnic ground at the end of the Park and Falls Trolley line on the South Side of Youngstown. The park, originally named Terminal Park, included a small roller coaster, a bandstand, a theater and like every amusement park - a carousel.

The park would be renamed Idora Park and the carousel would be moved to Cascade Park in nearby New Castle, PA. The new carousel was one of 87 built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co., an amusement company that built roller coasters - including Idora Park's Wildcat.

The new carousel featured 48 horses and two chariots, and was a popular ride for the remainder of the parkís existence. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, the first carousel so honored.

On April 26, 1984, as workers were getting ready for Idora Parkís 85th season, a spark fell on the Lost River, catching the wooden ride on fire. The fire spread to the adjacent Wildcat, also made of wood, and soon, Idora Park was ablaze.

Firefighters from throughout the area battled the blaze, which ultimately claimed the Lost River, one end of the Wildcat, 11 game and concession stands and the parkís office. However, firefighters sprayed down the carousel with water, saving it from the same fate.

That season turned out to be the last for Idora Park, and on Oct. 20-21, the items in the park were auctioned off - including the historic carousel. Bids were taken for each horse on the carousel, and when they were all sold, the prices were totaled up and 10 percent was added, coming to $385,000.

The auctioneer asked if anyone was willing to pay for the whole thing. A woman from New York City was, and a shout went up from the crowd because the carousel would stay together.

The buyer was Jane Walentas. Her husband David had developed a lot of land in the Brooklyn neighborhood known as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), and wanted to include a carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Walentas spent more than 20 years restoring the carousel to its original grandeur.

Idora Park workers would do maintenance on the ride annually, but the carouselís looks faded over time.

She has been so far unable to get the carousel in the park, so it remains in a warehouse in the DUMBO neighborhood. For more information about the restoration, or to visit the carousel, go to:


http://www.janescarousel.com