Crane caps Berkshire Carousel with cupola

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Photo Gallery | Berkshire Carousel gets a cupola

Video | Berkshire Carousel gets a cupola installed by crane.

PITTSFIELD — With guidance from Chris Kirby, J.H. Maxymillian crane operator Mike Boese, steadily hoisted the cupola some 30 feet into the air on Thursday and gently placed it atop the Berkshire Carousel.

Delivered by Sheds N Stuff of Cheshire, the octagon-shaped adornment built by five carousel volunteers is a crowning achievement for a decade-long project nearing completion at the corner of South Church and Center streets.

"It would be just another building without the top," said Charlie Zawistowski, of Pittsfield. "Once the stained glass goes in it will be picture perfect."

Zawistowski, Morgan Davis, Doug Cowen and Bruce Goguen built the copper-topped cupola with Frank Ringwood, creating and installing seven panes of stained glass; the eighth side is vented to properly ventilate the building.

The cupola is yet another example of the local talent that's gone into the community-driven project, which is expected to cost up to $2.6 million, according to carousel director Maria Caccaviello.

"I've seen what these men can do. I've learned my volunteers can do almost anything," she said as she as she watched the cupola glide through the air.

The symbolic capping is the latest item crossed off Berkshire Carousel's to-do list as the grand opening for the downtown amusement ride and amenities is less than three months away.

Prior to the July 1 debut, the heating and electrical systems must be installed, the interior walls finished and painted, the exterior siding attached and the landscaping completed, Caccaviello noted.

In February, the carousel began to take shape as eight-sided steel-frame structure housing the merry-go-round 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 and donkey were added.

For a month, the amusement ride has been wrapped in thick plastic while the interior work continues. On Thursday, the protective covering was pulled away so several staunch carousel supporters could view the completed masterpiece.

City resident Anita Bakst and her family have sponsored four of the horses: Belle, Sam, Charlie and Glory.

"My kids are so excited about riding their own horses," she said.

Conceived in 2004 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 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.

Hundreds of individuals and businesses from around the county and beyond have donated time, money, labor and materials toward the project.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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