Photo Gallery | Berkshire Carousel frame installed
PITTSFIELD — Installation of the Berkshire Carousel has begun as workers erect the refurbished frame and mechanism that will make children of all ages go 'round.
Dating back to the mid-1920's, the collection of heavy metal, gears and tension rods has taken the shape of an inverted umbrella underneath the nearly enclosed steel frame at the corner of South Church and Center streets.
Project officials expect completion of the 20,000 pound assembly by mid-month — with the hand-crafted wooden horses installed last.
Once the 10-tons of fun passes local and state inspection and its octagonal home is fully enclosed, a soft opening is planned for April. A grand opening is scheduled for July 1 to kick-off the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Carousel volunteer A.J. Buchinski, of Pittsfield, is on the work crew methodically piecing together the mechanical skeleton that will hold together the 33 wooden horse, 14 rounding boards, two chariots and a donkey.
"The weight of the base and mast took some doing to erect," he said. "It's like and Erector Set, going number by number."
Todd Goings of Carousels and Carvings is overseeing the operation, guiding his employees and volunteers as they carefully assemble the carousel. Goings' company in Marion, Ohio refurbished the frame and mechanism and will remain on site until it's fully functional.
"Just like a Ferris wheel, balance is the key," he said during a work break. "People rely on us to do the job right so a fun day at the carousel is a fun day at the carousel."
Conceived a decade ago by Pittsfield native Jim Shulman and his wife, Jackie, the Berkshire Carousel has been a privately funded, volunteer driven community art project that is the first of three phases.
Organizers have already raised $1 million toward the carousel itself, with $600,000 in hand of the estimated $1.3 million to $1.6 million it will cost to complete the 9,531-square-foot complex.
As the main structure housing the carousel and ride itself is built, fundraising continues on the second and third phases for the project amenities.
Phase 2 is a full concession with an old fashioned soda fountain and an education department for all ages; Phase 3 is exhibit hall, which will house the thousands of pieces Pittsfield memorabilia along with the first motorized fire truck.
Hundreds of individuals and businesses from around the county and beyond have donated time, money, labor and materials toward the project, according to carousel officials.
Carousel director Maria Caccaviello is elated Phase 1 is nearing completion.
"It is a testament to the dedication of my volunteers and the support of our donors who have worked hard and believed in the power of giving back to a community they love," she said in an email. "We are now continuing with a full plan in place for Phase 2."
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.