As the carousel spun, the 87-year-old
"This brings back memories," Chicouris said.
A lifetime ago, in 1936, Chicouris was one of many children who rode on those same horses at the
He felt stunned last week as he examined the 45 restored horses, carved in 1910 by
The Gesa Carousel of Dreams is much more elaborate than the version he enjoyed as a child, he said.
By the time Chicouris rode it, 16 of the standing horses on the carousel had been replaced by jumpers also carved by Carmel. Those original horses were lost, burned in 1948.
Like Chicouris, Tri-Citians young and old will get a chance to try out the Gesa Carousel of Dreams starting
Chicouris, a pictorial artist who still paints regularly, recalled summers when he, his mother and younger brother and sister would take a boat across
Chicouris didn't have a favorite horse -- all of them seemed the same to him then -- but he remembers the magic of riding the carousel.
"I think I lived the best of times," he said.
Sometimes his mother would ride with them on one of the chariots, but he and his siblings always went for the horses, he said.
Rides then were in the nickel and dime range. Those days are over. Tokens -- each worth one 2.5-minute ride -- will cost
Tiles hold memories
Chicouris is among a handful of Tri-Citians who rode the carousel at its original home at the
Look closely on the engraved tiles encircling the metal fence around the carousel and you might find more memories from its heyday.
One tile is in memory of
The carousel was sold in 1972 to carousel champion
Chicouris moved to the Tri-Cities in 2002, the same year Stevens told carousel foundation founder
Chicouris, who then lived in
Unbeknownst to Chicouris, his childhood carousel made the more than 1,400-mile journey to
Chicouris discovered his childhood carousel was in the Tri-Cities only a few years ago when he was reading the newspaper.
"It's a small world really," he said.
'A great investment'
It's been a long road for a carousel that
"The current council was committed to getting this project done for our children and for tourism," said
In 2012, the foundation was given one last chance to get the carousel running -- or city officials would consider selling the horses to recoup the public's investment. The city council was adamant that no more tax dollars be spent on the project.
The volunteer group and the community made it happen. The tide turned that year after
"It's a great investment for this community," Young said.
The carousel far exceeds any expectations the volunteer board members had, said
"We are stunned -- and we hope the community is too," he said.
If you go:
-- Regular hours:
-- Cost: 2.5-minute ride
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