Staycation: Merry Go Round Museum
SANDUSKY, Ohio – Do you want to get away this summer without breaking the bank?
Fox 8 is showing you places to visit around Northeast Ohio.
In Sandusky, an old post office is now heart of a local museum that the whole family will love.
Shirley Shoulders is a tour guide at the Merry Go Round Museum, she gets to visit mementos from her childhood.
She’s volunteered there for three-and-a-half years.
And as she stood next to two tall wooded horses, she said she can still hear the music that played with them.
“These two animals right here are from Euclid Beach, that was in Cleveland and closed in ‘68,” Shoulders said. “I lived very near there as a small child and rode them frequently.”
Shoulders grew up during the Great Depression, and said the park was often an escape from reality.
“We didn’t’ have a lot of money and parks were free at that time. Occasionally, I remember going in an exit gate,” she laughed. “Ah, it’s déjà vu. I can picture myself riding them as a kid. That was a thrill to see them all again.”
The museum opened in 1991 in an old round-front post office on Jackson Street, putting its own stamp on the Sandusky community.
“It really is a chance to connect generations,” said Veronica Vanderbout, director of the museum. “Carousels were the original thrill ride. They went fast. They weren’t for children. They were for adults and adults only.”
In the heart of the museum, people can ride the wooden Allen-Herschel Carousel.
The carousel has been restored with newer animals to ride, but still has original pieces from when it was built in 1939.
Every week, the nine-ton carousel would travel to parks and festivals throughout the MidWest.
“What an awesome place this is. I just love walking in and looking at the different things. But riding the carousel is a real treat,” said John Mears, who serves on the museum board of directors. “It has a lot of animals on it that our people have carved and painted, so it has our own stamp on it, in effect.”
Patrons can watch the museum’s wood-carvers create wooden animals on site.
“It’s great. We do one every year, and it’s a fundraiser at the museum, primarily done by the volunteers here,” said volunteer wood carver Dick Glass.
The local artists and wood carvers make the pieces, which take about a year to complete. The finished carving is raffled to benefit the museum.
“It takes us about 400, 500 hours to make one, but it’s worth it. Plus, I’m in it for the coffee,” Glass laughed. “It’s all painted probably exactly like they did 100 years ago. She does it all by hand. She still uses oil paints.”
Although the wood carvers make new creations each year, Shoulders is most amazed with the pieces that have withstood time, with some dating back to the late 1800’s.
“The things that surprised me is when we get an animal in its original paint that’s 100 years old and never been retouched,” she said.
But no matter how old the art – or how old the patron – Shoulders is happy to bring back or create new memories for those who walk through the museum’s doors.
“I think of it as a happy place. It’s a happy place. People come in, might come in grouches, but they don’t leave a grouch,” she said.
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