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Spokane Carousel Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the Spokane Carousel:

  • Go for the Gold!
    "You only go through life once, you might as well go for the brass ring", a quote often given whose roots are in the carousel industry. But, the original signs from the Spokane Looff Carrousel said "grab the gold ring".

    And of course, the prize for the lucky rider who grabs the brass ring is a free ride on the carousel!

    Brass Ring
    Plastic Rings   In addition to the brass rings, the original rings were often made of steel or iron. They were banned at the new location because of possible damage to building, windows, and people.

    The current rings are colorful plastic made from left over plastic casting materials. They are often colorful for the season as well, black and orange for Halloween; red, white and blue for the 4th of July.

    So what do you do with the plastic rings? This clown is just waiting to have you throw them at him. And if you get your ring in his mouth, you'll be rewarded by the ringing of a bell! (Won't your fellow riders be jealous?) The Clown  

  • Ring My Bell
    The bells on the carousel tell the rider and the attendant the status of the ride:
    One bell - it is ready to start
    Two bells - it is beginning to turn
    Three bells - the carousel is at full speed.

    The bell used in Spokane for many years is an antique trolley bell. (Most carousels were in trolley parks, and trolleys used the same system to communicate to their riders.) And how do you ring this bell? You smack it with an antique hammer! The bell has since been replaced with a recording, but it has been pllished up and is on display on the ring arm at the carousel.

    Considered by the antique carousels as a necessary piece of equipment for safety, new carousels consider it also part of the magic. It alerts the rider that the fun is beginning. Bells are used on airlines and in hospitals today for the same reason, to communicate. Can you think of others? Ships, buoys, trains, seat belt warnings in our personal vehicles ?........

    Trolley Bell

  • Horseshoe Nails
    Horse Shoe The detail of carving in the Looff figures goes right down to the nails in the horseshoes. Each horseshoe has the same number of square-headed nails!

  • All Jumpers
    Spokane's carousel has 54 horses, and all of them are Jumpers. (Jumpers are horses that are carved in a running position, and that move up and down with the rotation of the carousel.) This is the only carousel produced by Looff on which all of the horses were jumpers.

  • Carousel Speed
    Our carousel turns at a speed of 4 rpm. With a 50-foot diameter and a circumference of 157 feet, this puts the rim speed of the platform at 10.5 feet per second, or about 7 mph.

    In the spring of 2006, our carrousel's motor required an overhaul. While it was in the shop, the original motor was put back into operation. This motor turns our carrousel at 5 rpm, for a calculated speed of 8.9 mph!

  • Our Building
    The building that currently houses our carousel was originally put up for Expo '74, where it served as the temporary location of the Bavarian Gardens.

    The carousel had been considered as an attraction for the world's fair, but that idea was abandoned because it was thought that too many riders might cause problems with the carousel, which had been in storage for several years at that time. After the fair, the carousel was assembled in this building, which had really been designed for it all along.

    Carousel Building
  • Horse Tails
    Our horses will be getting new tails this year. Each horse gets a tail made from real horse hair, taken mostly from racehorses. The tails were sorted and labeled for all 54 horses to insure that each horse gets a tail that compliments its colors.

  • Ridable Art
    The carousel is the world's only ridable art form. Our figures get three coats of clear coat (the polyurethane finish used for hardwood floors) to help protect them from all of the blue jeans, buckles, rivets and whips (the belt from the neighboring horse works well for a whip) that they must endure during a season.

    Linseed oil based Alkyd enamels are used to paint the horses. Linseed oil to old wood is like hand lotion to dry hands. It puts moisture back into the wood. After more than 90 years a lot of the moisture has left the wood, which makes the antique horses much lighter than newly carved horses.

  • Natatorium Park (The Nat)
    The Nat was a very important part to the children's survival during the depression. They don't remember the hard times (which is how people are), but they DO remember the good times at The Nat. They often tell stories of how they would save to have enough to take the bus one way. Not having enough money to ride the rides, they would just listen to the carousel, then walk home.

    The local newspaper sponsored Twickenham Days, where a contest blank and a little luck was all it would take to win those coveted tickets for a free day at The Nat. (In its early days, Natatorium Park was named Twickenham Park.)

    Nat Park Sign
  • Teams of Horses
    Oliver's Team The colors are coordinated in each three-abreast row of horses on our carousel. And the head positions are such that the horses don't hide each other, and so that they compliment the motion of their running mates.

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(c) 2004-2022 Gary Nance
unless otherwise noted.
All Rights Reserved.