Dear MMD Friends: I would like to thank all of you who responded
to my earlier posting with suggestions and encouragement.
As some of you may have heard, the auction on April 15 was a disaster
in so many ways. The carousel ended up being broken up. But it
produced only a fraction of the cash which the auctioneers led the
park to believe that they would receive. This was the worst of all
scenarios. The carousel was gone and the park did not get the money
they needed out of it.
This was in part due to bad timing; the stock market plunge of the
preceding week eliminated many bidders and made others uneasy. In
fact, despite the short time frame, we had produced several parties
willing and able to purchase the carousel intact at the price it ended
up bringing. But each dropped out during the week; the last one did
so on Saturday morning, hours before the auction.
But we are not done. I borrowed money and went up intending to buy
the machine I had once operated, even though I couldn't afford the
animals, in case a buyer for the whole was not there. In my favor
(but bad for the park) the auctioneer sold the frame complete with all
of the scenery, rounding boards, mirrors, artwork, poles, etc. as one
lot. So the animals got away but I now own everything else, for a bid
We are working on a location in the area and are forming a nonprofit
corporation to raise the funds to buy the animals back; as many as
possible at first and then the remaining ones whenever they come back
on the market. I will loan the use of my frame to the nonprofit
corporation and the ride will someday be back together.
What we lacked in local support to save the carousel, we are now
getting to bring the animals back. We intend to get it up and running
ASAP, even if we have only six of the fifty six animals on it. We feel
it will be an effective way to drum up support. People can see the
re-population occurring right before their eyes, as the money rolls in.
If things go well, I intend to see that we obtain a band organ,
preferably a Wurlitzer 165 or a 165 replica. I still intend to build
my own, but I want to see one installed at the carousel much sooner
than the time frame for my own replica. Any suggestions would be
But let this be a lesson to all. First, signing a contract to auction
a historic carousel is the _worst_ possible way to dispose of it, for
the financial sake of the owner as well as the sake of the carousel.
The park would have realized twice the return had they worked with us
and entered a negotiated sale.
We had buyers. In fact, they had turned down an offer a couple of
years ago to buy the carousel for a sum equal to what the bids totaled,
which was half of what the auctioneer promised. And that buyer wanted
to leave it in the park. Yet after paying the auctioneer, the park
ended up with less than half the amount they would have cleared from
that previous offer. These auctioneers promise the moon, stars and
planets to get their hooks into a carousel, but have no ability to
deliver what they promise.
Second, if you care about a carousel, make sure there is a friends
group. I had assumed that my carousel was in good hands because the
family controlling the park loved it as much as I do. But unknown to
me, due to an internal power struggle on the board, that family lost
control of the park and the carousel was in jeopardy for the last
several years, only I did not know it. (I live 300 miles away and
hadn't been back in seven years, though I thought about the carousel
daily.) Had we a friends group already in place, we would have been
able to work with the park before they rushed off to the auctioneer,
thus saving them a lot of regret and us a lot of grief.
So, approach the owner or operator of your favorite carousel and get
involved. Or call Brian Morgan, president of the National Carousel
Association at 310-553-2606; email <firstname.lastname@example.org> and ask whether
your favorite carousel is protected. If it isn't, then do something
about it before the auctioneers (I call them "poachers") get their
hooks into it!
Mark S. Chester