Everyday Heroes: Return to the Albany Carousel

Americans may be as politically divided as they ever have been, but one city in Oregon has come together under a very old-fashioned idea: Carousels are fun.

Thousands of local donors and volunteers have worked for the past decade to restore a century-old carousel to be opened in downtown Albany.

The restoration includes hand carving new animals for the carousel, and building a brand-new, 22,000-square-foot building to house it in.

Jenifer Weinmaster, the Operations Director at the Historic Carousel and Museum, told KATU the carousel should be open for business by the end of June.

“I’m so excited,” Weinmaster told KATU. “I’m passionately in love with this project.”

Weinmaster said 90 percent of the funds raised for the project have come from about 1,200 individual donors in the Albany area.

“There have been a few really big [donors],” Weinmaster said, “but also a ton of consistent local donations.”

Much of the work to restore the carousel has also been done by volunteers.

Gary Goby, the carousel’s project lead, said retired mechanics donated their time to restore the original 1909 carousel mechanism.

And, as KATU has previously reported, the new animals are carved by an all-volunteer force.

More than just the carousel

Goby told KATU the building that will house the carousel will also be a place for the public to come and gather. Meeting rooms, he said, will also be available to rent.

“Elderly people want to be here,” Goby said. “We want young people to be here. We want everybody to be here.”

He added: “We’re trying to make opportunities for high-school students to do service projects. We’re trying to make opportunities for disabled people to be able to work and learn skills.”

Goby said the building will have a brick veneer to complement the style of other, historic buildings in downtown Albany.

“Since we have one of the prettiest restored carousels in the United States, let’s put it in a building that complements it,” Goby said.

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