Berkshire Carousel set for Friday opening
Photo Gallery | Berkshire Carousel to open
PITTSFIELD — Brewster, Charlie and Thunderbolt are saddled up to give children of all ages a ride of their lives.
In all, the 33 named wooden horses of the Berkshire Carousel will make their debut on Friday, nearly 12 years after Pittsfield natives Jim and Jackie Shulman conceived of the volunteer-driven, made-from-scratch merry-go-round.
The grand unveiling of the amusement ride, which also includes a donkey, two chariots — one handicap accessible — and a spinning tub, is set for 9:30 a.m. at the corner of South Church and Center streets.
The festivities include speeches, food, live music, American flag dedication and a visit by the horse-mounted unit of the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, according to carousel director Maria Caccaviello
Electrical and plumbing contractors along with volunteers are putting the finishing touches on a project that has turned out better than Jean O'Hearn had expected when she saw the completed carousel for the first time.
"Stunned and amazed and it brought tears to my eyes," said the North Adams woman.
O'Hearn among the hundreds of volunteers who spent thousands of hours, carving, sanding and painting the horses, many with little or no woodworking or artistic skills.
"With all the volunteers working together, it's been amazing watching people put their heart and soul into it," Caccaviello said.
Since the groundbreaking a year ago this week, J.H. Maxymillian performed — free of charge — more than $250,000 of site preparation work that included installing the carousel building's foundation.
In February, the carousel began to take shape as an eight-sided steel-frame structure housing the attraction was erected and eventually enclosed after the restored antique carousel mechanism was installed.
Lastly, the 33 hand-crafted wooden horses, 14 rounding boards, two chariots, spinning tub and donkey were mounted to the decoratively painted 85-year-old frame and mechanism that was refurbished in Ohio two years ago.
The building has been sided, topped with a home-made cupola, the property landscaped and a temporary concession stand erected until the rest of the project is completed.
Organizers have leased the paved parking lot adjacent to the amusement ride, with additional parking just up the road on West Street courtesy of Miller Supply Co.
The Shulmans' brainchild has been a privately funded from the get-go, with two more phases yet-to-be fully funded and completed.
Organizers already have 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 Phase 1 nears the finish line, 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 thousands of pieces of Pittsfield memorabilia along with the first motorized fire truck.
Maxymillian is among the hundreds businesses and individuals from around the county and beyond have donated time, money, labor and materials toward the project.
A number of volunteers have been trained to operate the ride and Gary Gnat of Averill Park, N.Y., is one of two certified mechanics available to ensure the carousel brings enjoyment to all seven days a week.
Gnat initially hopped aboard Berkshire Carousel two years ago as a volunteer carving the last of the horses.
"I love working with wood and I thought what a great opportunity to carve," he said.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.
If you go ...
What: Berkshire Carousel grand opening
When: 9:30 a.m., Friday
Where: Corner of South Church and Center streets, Pittsfield.
Hours of operation: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; 11 a.m.-6 p,m. Sun.
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