Most of the carousels I have visited which have band organs operate
them the traditional way. The carousel at Bushnell Park in Hartford,
Connecticut, plays its organ only during rides, however. So does the
Paragon Carousel on Nantasket Beach in Hull, Massachusetts, and then
only when asked. Otherwise, the employees there play recorded music
both during and between rides.
The other notable exception is America's oldest carousel on Martha's
Vineyard, which uses its organ as part of an interesting operating
procedure. That carousel is one of those that still offers riders the
opportunity to catch the brass ring for a free ride. Small steel rings
are fed into a metal dispenser extended towards the platform, so that
riders can attempt to take the rings as they pass the dispenser.
Once the carousel is at full speed, its operator switches on the organ.
This is a signal for the ring machine operators to extend the dispensers
to within reach of the riders. After one full tune has played, the
operator switches the organ off, and this is the signal for both ring
machine operators to add the brass ring to the arm. This will be the
last ring added to each dispenser, and after both are taken, the ride
I really enjoy the excitement of the diversion offered by the use of
the ring machines, and I think the carousel's operators have figured
out an ingenious way to run it, but I wish it involved playing the
organ a bit more!