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MMD > Archives > December 2010 > 2010.12.24 > 01Prev  Next

Restore North America's Carousel Organs
By Rich Sitler

Interesting that this subject has come up once more.  I guess there's
a lesson here.

I have a bit of insight into the theme park world, as I am the "organ
guy" at one of them, namely, Hersheypark.  Yes, we are one of the few
that does still operate a band organ, but without some key factors,
ours would be on the non-operating list as well.

We have been fortunate in that maintenance of the rides (including the
organ) has been left to the discretion of the maintenance department.
My father, now retired, was a maintenance manager who had a love of the
carrousel, and always treated it with that love.  Fortunately, those
who succeeded him understood this position and have continued to
support the machine.

In addition, we were blessed to have Mike Kitner and Bill Black "in
the neighborhood" to continue maintenance on the organ over the years.
After Mike's passing, Bill continued to provide as much support as he
could to keep the organ playing.  Having "grown up" at HP and knowing
Bill for (now) over 30 years, I was able to carry on the maintenance
when I returned to the park in 2000.

It is all well and good to want to "adopt" or offer restoration or
monies or whatever to a park to get the organ playing again, but the
bigger problem is who will maintain it?  An organ will not play 12
hours a day, 7 days a week, 150 days a year (or more) without someone
there to tend to it.  Aside from changing rolls and cleaning the
tracker, there is lubrication, tuning, and all of the little things
that wear out.

If there's someone at the park who has an interest and can learn these
things, great!  Otherwise it's a losing battle.  Very, very few parks
will allow anyone who is not an employee, and in many cases, a full
time employee, to work on or maintain any park equipment.  Insurance
and workers compensation laws will prevent it.  At some of the parks
mentioned in this post, years ago there was an "organ guy" who knew the
thing inside and out.

But, we all retire somewhere along the line, and I suspect that's what
happened in those cases, and there was no one there to follow in his
footsteps.  I believe this is probably more the culprit, more than
money is, to organs that don't play anymore -- there's no one to keep
them playing.  A maintenance department that has an interested party
will always find money to keep the organ playing; it just isn't that
much money.  It's having that interested party somewhere in the
organization that's the tough part.

Look at any of the parks that still have operating band organs and you
will find that "organ guy".  Hersheypark has me, Knoebels has Dave
Wynn, and the list goes on.  That's where you have to start on this
quest -- find that person in the organization that has the interest
and work with them to get the dialog open.  There will still be parks
and companies that will be unreachable, but perhaps there will be a few
that will open up.

Rich Sitler

(Message sent Fri 24 Dec 2010, 19:14:51 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  America's, Carousel, North, Organs, Restore

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