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MMD > Archives > May 2013 > 2013.05.16 > 05Prev  Next

Carousel Organ at Balboa Park, San Diego, Calif.
By Monica Jones

A couple of months ago I discovered the organ on the carousel in
Balboa Park, completely by accident!  We go to Balboa Park fairly
regularly to go to the zoo, and I knew there was a carousel on the
park map.  However, I didn't know how great it is and had never even
seen it.

On our last trip, we went to the Natural History Museum and parked
right by the carousel.  CD music was playing and I didn't even notice
the organ behind all of the horses.  We got on to ride in the bench
seat on the carousel because it _rocks!  What a wonderful thing!

As we went around the first time, there it was -- one wonderful
mechanical organ.  Further rotations lead to me taking pictures and
noticing a cabinet of rolls, connections that seemed sufficient to
run it, and the label "Herschell-Spillman, Tonawanda, New York."

Luckily, the operator noticed my interest in the organ, and he turned
it on, so our last couple of rotations were to proper carousel music,
much better than even the John Williams "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones"
themes they had been playing on CD's.  (I will admit, though, that
putting that music on rolls for the carousel organ is an excellent

Internet searches have turned up almost no information about the
carousel or the organ, though there was a celebration of its 100th
birthday.  I was hoping to find information about who owns it or cares
for it, as the carousel looks like it might need a bit of TLC.

Does anyone here know anything about that?  Can anyone tell me why the
organ isn't run all the time?  Is it a matter of wear on the instrument
or just operator convenience?

I must strongly recommend that a visit to San Diego include the
carousel, and just ask the operator to play the organ (as I did when
we went back later, though he saw me coming and planned to anyway).
We're going again next month, and it is definitely on the itinerary.

Monica Jones

 [ The 1912 North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works organ plays 52-key
 [ endless music rolls, see 
 [ and  -- Robbie

(Message sent Thu 16 May 2013, 17:34:42 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Balboa, Calif, Carousel, Diego, Organ, Park, San

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