Sunday October 7, 2012

LANESBOROUGH -- More than 100 supporters stopped by William Laston Jr. Memorial Field Saturday to celebrate the announcement that Lanesborough will be the home of the new Berkshire Carousel, which is scheduled to open for business on June 1, 2013.

The exact location of the carousel hasn't yet been determined, although among the 300 volunteers, Berkshire Mall seems to be the "obvious" No. 1 choice, according to Maria Caccaviello, director of the project.

"We're still negotiating a location," she said. "There are several possibilities."

Caccaviello said the decision to locate the "largest permanent artwork ever created in the Berkshires" in Lanesborough -- rather than Pittsfield -- was an easy one for the group because of the support they have enjoyed there.

"Lanesborough selectmen and the town of Lanesborough really see our vision -- that it's not just about money, but about the Berkshire County community," Caccaviello said. "We have 300 dedicated volunteers who have gotten together to give back to that community. And this town has just been terrific for us."

She added that the mall has also been very supportive. The effort is currently housed at the mall in a storefront where passers-by can stop by and see the carvers in action.

"Anything we need, the mall is there for us," Caccaviello said. "We wouldn't have gotten where we are without (Berk shire Mall general manager) Joe Scelsi."

Scelsi paused for a moment at the celebration to say that he's happy to help.


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"We support the project fully and will do anything we can to make it a reality," he said.

The celebration included live bands, childrens entertainment, food offered by local restaurants, and several volunteers actually carving the wooden horses for use on the carousel. There was also face painting and pony rides.

The $1.5 million project is still heavily in fundraising mode, with plans being finalized for a New Year's Eve gala.

Volunteers have already completed 28 of 36 horses, Caccaviello said. The carousel will have 33 horses, a spinning tub and two chariots. Three other horses will be used as replacements for any other horses that might need repairs.

The carousel itself is an antique built in 1920. It is in Ohio undergoing restoration at the hands of Todd Goings, an expert in the field.

The cost for the carousel itself is $350,000. The group has already raised $167,000. Del ivery is scheduled for March 1. Goings will assemble the carousel, and then volunteers will paint murals depicting scenery of the Berkshires on the carousel, Caccaviello said.

The carousel will be 38 feet in diameter. Once in operation, rides will cost $1.25, Caccaviello said. The carousel has already been reserved for 200 birthday parties, she added.

The horses are being modeled after the classical carousel ponies created between 1880 and 1930.

"Each horse pays homage to a carousel from the past," Caccaviello noted. Even the color palette harkens back to the classical era of the carousels.

She said the project is also a reflection of the Berkshire County heritage of art, culture and entertainment.

But more importantly, Cac caviello added, "A carousel makes people smile and brings them together."

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6241
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford