What’s It Take to Keep a Carousel Goin’ ‘Round?

CarouselSpringFrying Pan Farm Park’s beloved carousel is up and running again after some much needed maintenance.

With the carousel typically shut down for the season from early December until mid-March, winter was a good time to spruce up the park’s antique carousel, which has become quite popular since it was moved to Frying Pan from Lee District Park in 2011. The carousel, just shy of its century birthday, was built in 1918 and featured hand-carved horses that were replaced after World War II. Since then, the simply named “Historic Carousel’’ has been “loved hard,’’ in the words of Park Manager Yvonne Johnson. Some of its components were replaced or repaired over the winter to make sure that children can continue to enjoy “this little piece of history” for years to come.

While safety checks are performed on the carousel every day and it is inspected every year, wooden components wear out over time and, as last season was ending, the decision was made that winter 2016 was a good time to do the needed work.

The horses themselves don’t look any different than they did a year ago. This project was all about the structure. Workmen didn’t find anything catastrophic, Johnson said, but the renovations turned out to be more extensive than originally planned. For example, Frying Pan was hoping to only replace a couple of pieces of decking, but ended up replacing the entire deck. The canopy also was replaced, due in large measure to damage from the elements. Also replaced was the wooden band that connects the sweeps to each other. The sweeps are like spokes in a wheel and jut outward from the center pole above the horses.

Frying Pan mechanic Eric Sumner said the biggest challenge was just the “enormity” of the project. He likened it to a “giant geometry project’’ with everything being cut at acute angles to make the full circle. The deck pieces also are “really, really heavy.’’  Components had to be taken indoors for servicing.   Luckily, the Frying Pan crew got a lot of help from Park Authority carpenter Bobby Smither, who built the new decks, from groundskeeper Ferlin Mathews and his Facility Maintenance crew, and from staff at nearby Lake Fairfax Park. The wood will dry out this summer season, and in the fall staff will stain the deck and paint the sweeps.

The carousel at Frying Pan Farm Park, one of five carousels in Park Authority parks, runs Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

Author Lori K. Weinraub is a volunteer writer for the Park Authority and a former national journalist for The Associated Press.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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