Historic Midway carousel once again operational

MAPLE SPRINGS – Thirty fully grown adults in business attire walk onto a carousel, and one person says to another, “Isn’t this magnificent?”

It’s not so much of a joke as it is a description of what happened at Midway State Park on Thursday, following a ribbon cutting for the reopening of the park’s historic carousel.

For the past four years, the popular 1946 Herschell Carousel has been located in a parking lot due to the deteriorated condition of the 1928 roundhouse building which sheltered it.

The project to stabilize the building, replace the roof, repair windows, install new pathways and add new cedar benches is now almost fully completed.

“New York State Parks is the second most visited park system, and is approaching the largest park system in the country,” said Rose Harvey, New York State Parks commissioner. “Our parks come in all sizes, all shapes, and all sorts of significance. That being said, Midway Park is truly unique and truly iconic – we’re really proud to have it and its uniqueness in our park system. … Midway makes memories like none other. Midway brings children to our park system and offers them memories that they will never forget. It’s really a pleasure to have one of the oldest operating amusement parks in the country in our parks system.”

Harvey went on to thank Gov. Cuomo for his investment through the NY Works program, which provided $89 million statewide and $143 million in total funding to move forward with more than 100 overdue projects to improve 55 parks and historic sites across New York.

“It does take an amazing team to make all of this happen, and everyone has done a very good job … certainly Gov. Cuomo stepped into a huge deficit, but he stepped right into our park system, and was right behind everyone here who have been so passionate about state parks,” said Harvey. “After 30 years of no capital, capital has finally been made available for this parks system, and that wouldn’t have happened without the legislature to make this money available in very difficult times.”

Present at the ribbon cutting along with Harvey was Mark Thomas, former county executive; Lisa Vanstrom, proxy for state Sen. Cathy Young; Elisabeth Randkin, proxy for Assemblyman Andy Goodell; Dalton Burgett, local attorney; and Robert Wooler, Friends of Midway State Park chairman.

“I think everyone understands the idea behind ‘friends’ groups, as they span across the state,” said Wooler. “The parks are funded by the state and channel the public dollars, while the friends groups leverage the private donations. Included with this (carousel) is a gift that I think everyone can appreciate: connecting everyone who cares about this park with their memories of the park, as well as the fact that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the park in its pristine condition as we continue to renovate the rides. We’re in the desirable position of connecting people with those memories, and hearing those stories. I think in some ways, it’s not really an equal partnership; the employees here at Midway put in the heavy lifting, and the state puts in the big dollars, and the friends group just puts the (cosmetic touches) on the hard work everyone else has already done. … It’s such an honor to be able to do that.”

Wooler made mention to one horse on the carousel which was already fully painted. Artist Diane Gatto painted one of the horses to provide guests with a prototype of how the other horses will look, and the remaining 29 horses have been sandblasted, primed and base-coated with paint to prepare them for the new design. The remaining horses will be painted following the conclusion of the park season to match Gatto’s prototype.

Following closing remarks made by Thomas, a ribbon cutting took place, and many of those in attendance took advantage of an opportunity to take a ride on the carousel.