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MMD > Archives > December 2010 > 2010.12.20 > 03Prev  Next

Restore America's Carousel Organs
By Matthew Caulfield

Mikey Mills' posting to yesterday's MMD shows a lot of enthusiasm for
band organs but little understanding of the amusement park business
-- and it _is_ a business.  If you don't run it right, you go under;
witness the demise of Stan Nelson's Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita,

Most of the band organs Mr. Mills mentions are in amusement parks owned
by corporations.  In trying to convince them to invest money in band
organ music you are talking to bean counters, who put their money where
it brings in the most customers and who have no feeling for old-time
amusement park nostalgia.  It's no surprise that the family-owned parks
like Knoebels, Seabreeze, Griffith Park, and (until recently) Kennywood
are the parks with well-maintained, playing band organs, while the
corporate parks like those Mr. Mills lists have sick or dead organs,
if any.

Idealism alone will get you nowhere in this endeavor.  If you approach
the owners with a check for $10,000 or an offer to do the restoration
yourself for free or for the cost of materials, you might get somewhere.
That approach worked for AMICA in the case of a couple of machines at
the Music Hall museum in Nevada City, Montana.

But the bottom line, like it or not, is that what brings in customers
to amusement parks are new, faster, wilder thrill rides that scare you
to within an inch of your life, but do not quite kill you.

As for Mr. Mills' comment about the Crescent Park carousel's Ruth band
organ needing to be converted to playing B.A.B. rolls: that is utterly
absurd!  The Ruth originally played book music, and book music is not
a practical medium for use on an operating carousel.  Crescent Park has
a good library of Wurlitzer 165 music, and site manager Ed Serowik is
always on the lookout for new rolls.  To convert to B.A.B. rolls, if
they could be obtained, would serve no purpose.

The Crescent Park carousel is owned by the City of East Providence,
Rhode Island, and they just spent big bucks having new gears installed
by Dan Horenberger's Brass Ring Entertainment, Inc.  See the November
2010 issue of the "Carousel News & Trader."  The city will spend money
on necessary upkeep but not on frivolity.

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York

(Message sent Mon 20 Dec 2010, 16:30:50 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

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

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