LANESBOROUGH -- The long-awaited, volunteer-driven Berkshire Carousel is about six months away from opening.
Organizers on Wednesday announced they expect the carousel to take its first spin within the Berkshire Mall on July 1, more than seven years after the privately funded community project was conceived.
Director Maria Caccaviello said that dozens of people are in the home stretch toward completing the 39 wooden horses, one donkey, two chariots and the other hand-carved, colorful wood adornments. Once a refurbished 85-year-old frame for the carousel arrives from Ohio, assembling the amusement ride at the mall should begin in March, said Caccaviello.
The Berkshire Carousel is the brainchild of Pittsfield native Jim Shulman and his wife, Jackie. The Galena, Ohio, couple co-founded the project in late 2005 in an effort to help revitalize Pittsfield downtown. Studies had shown carousels in communities the size of Pittsfield annually attract up to 250,000 visitors.
Jim Shulman subsequently purchased a vacant lot at the corner of Church and Center streets next to the CVS pharmacy for the carousel's future home. However, the estimated $1.5 million needed to prepare the site and build an enclosed exhibit hall for the carousel has, so far, proved to be cost prohibitive, according to organizers. The carousel itself has a price tag of $1 million.
In October, carousel officials announced the largest moving-art project in Massachusetts would be housed at the Berkshire Mall. Since March 2011, the shopping complex has hosted the carousel's workshop in one of its vacant stores.
This article will be updated in future editions of The Eagle.
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