Our youngest grandson said he wanted to go to Happiness, we agreed. So off we all went a few weeks ago to The Carousel of Happiness. It was the happiest highlight of our summer, it more than lived up to its name.
The Carousel contains happiness due to its amazing story, and shares happiness in the experience of rounding on an antique refurbished well-oiled machine, riding on a menagerie of splendidly created beasts of joy to the rousing calliope tunes of oldies favorites like “Mr. Sandman”. Truly, each rider from oldies like me to tiny tots on this magical tour wore massive smiles, sung unabashed cheers, and went another round. I smile, hope you do with this video.
We all wanted to go back. Thinking back on it now, perhaps that was what Scott Harrison was feeling when the inspiration came in 1986 to buy the frameworks of a 1910 Looff carousel, deconstruct it and truck to his home, Nederland Colorado. “As a young Marine in Vietnam, Scott had received a tiny music box that he held to his ear to distract him from the horror of the war going on around him. The music, Chopin’s “Tristesse,” brought him a peaceful image of a carousel in a mountain meadow.” This caught my attention, because my father’s love of this tune, Etudes Op.10: No. 3 in E Major, Tristesse, which you can hear in this link.
His idea was to carve the animals. Ultimately, as a novice carver, he created more than 50 one-of-a-kind animals, 35 of which can be ridden. It took him 26 years. With community help the whole thing was reconstructed within beautiful new building. It opened in 2010.
Carving Joy: a short video trailer about Scott Harrison and he Carousel of Happiness.
There’s so much more I could say about how impressive a space it is beyond the childlike joy of riding pretend animals with loved ones and “strangers”. Every surface seems to be covered in paintings and smaller sculptures. The outside of the rounding board can be viewed from a second story window seat. I particularly liked the swan sequence sculptures, egg, to duckling, to floating, to wings up, all going around. While you are up there, you can put on a puppet show. In framed museum style there are historic photographs and positive notes. The Wurlitzer calliope itself was a marvel, as was a sculpture of Mozart.
The history of the wood used, painters involved with rounding boards and the carousel itself can be studied at their website.
History Exhibition: https://www.carouselofhappiness.org/carousel-history-exhibition/