Some of my favorite memories from childhood involve the Looff Carousel in Spokane’s Riverfront Park. Each of its 58 pieces were hand-carved by Charles I.D. Looff, including 54 horses, 1giraffe, 1 tiger, and 2 chariots. He gave it to his daughter and son-in-law, Emma and Louis Vogel, who owned Natatorium Park in Spokane. The park closed in 1968, and the carousel was moved to Riverfront Park in 1975. I was born in 1980, and have been enjoying it most of my life.
I’m sure I have photos somewhere of me riding the horses around and around; I found these online. The one on the left is a shot of the outside of the building from the other side of the Spokane River. On the right is the inside, probably while it’s moving. While it turns an old circus song is playing. It still has its original 1900 Ruth & Sohn Organ that Looff had sent over from Germany, but the rollers are deteriorated so much that a digitized recording is what we hear now.
Probably one of the best things about the ride is finding a seat on the outside row so you can grab a ring and toss it into the clown’s mouth. For those of you who haven't been there, they have a brass “arm” that extends out with plastic rings in it, and as you go by you’re supposed to grab one, then halfway around toss it into the mouth of a giant clown head. I always kept my rings, for two reasons: I liked them (we put them through our shoe laces), and clowns are disturbing.
It would be negligent of me not to mention playground merry-go-rounds, since today is Merry-Go-Round Day after all. These are wooden or metal wheels, some with bars to hold onto, others with seats, that children climb on and spin around in playgrounds. I have to be honest – I get motion sick.
Here’s a good example of one. This is one of my favorite shots of the Ministry Team from Camp Pinewood, summer 1996. This is most of us; Matt, Pastor Andrew, and Theresa were elsewhere. Not only is this a great view of a merry-go-round, but I think this would be an awesome album cover, yah?