PAWTUCKET – The Friends of the Looff Carousel at Slater Park group is selling a new ornament and magnet this year to celebrate the 126th anniversary of the historic Slater Park Looff Carousel. The ornament, the fourth in a series, is $10, and the magnet is $4.
Other items remaining available include ornaments from 2018, 2019, and 2020 ($10), a carousel mug ($10), a set of four carousel coasters ($15), a set of four menagerie figure coasters ($15), and a trivet with a 1910 antique photo of the carousel ($15). The items are produced locally at Barlow Design of East Providence, said Donna Houle of the Friends of the Looff Carousel.
They are available for sale at The Camera Werks, 766 Hope St., Providence, 401-273-5367, and are also available for curbside pick-up in Pawtucket through Houle, email@example.com or 401-744-9067. Visit the Facebook page Friends of the Looff Carousel at Slater Park for more information.
The Slater Park Looff Carousel was designated the National Historic Carousel of the Year in 2018 by the National Carousel Association. It was built by Charles I. D. Looff in 1895 in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Slater Park in 1910.
The carousel is made up of 44 horses, 3 dogs, 1 lion, 1 camel, 1 giraffe, and two chariots. A band organ built in 1909 by the North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works was purchased in 1996. A $2.4 million restoration of the carousel was recently completed.
Houle said she and her husband recently attended a national carousel convention in Rochester and met the same members of the National Carousel Association who came to the city in 2018 to announce that the carousel had won the NCA Historic Award. They told her that they plan to come again for a visit next year when the national convention is back in New England.
A number of people and businesses, including Kathy Hartley of Hearthside House in Lincoln with her historic costumes, and Sandra Cano and Navigant Credit Union with a luncheon, have agreed to be part of that event and to help pull out all the stops for it, she said.
Houle said she is most proud that the continued upgrades to the Looff Carousel prompted people from the national group to call it their favorite out of 15 carousels and four museums they’d visited.
“It’s so revered around the country,” she said.
She said she’s happy to see the carousel active again for Slater Park’s Winter Wonderland, though she noted that nine carousel horses and three St. Bernard dogs have been removed for restoration.
Houle said she was excited to learn recently that the city would be making an arts grant available to create a documentary on the carousel, saying she’s eternally grateful that Mayor Donald Grebien and the city continue to “really realize what a gem we have.”
There were more than 3,000 carousels remaining as of the turn of the century, she said, and now there are about 160 to 170 remaining, many lost to arson or other misuse, disrepair, or dismantled and sold. It’s great to have such a recognizable landmark everyone can root for right here in Pawtucket, she said.