Friday, April 19, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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Did Dentzel Carousel break down on its first day back in action?


QUESTION: Did Burlington’s newly-refurbished Dentzel Carousel stop working last month on the very evening of its grand reintroduction to City Park? Weren’t the carousel’s mechanical systems supposed to be retuned as part of this seven-figure restoration?

ANSWER: The recent travails of Burlington’s Dentzel Carousel have been an object lesson in how easy it is for even the soundest of plans to get thrown for a loop.

The city’s leaders were initially quite optimistic about their plans when they shipped the carousel off to Ohio in 2019 for what, at the time, was supposed to have been a two-year restoration at a specialized workshop. The subsequent arrival of the coronavirus pandemic soon threw a wrench into the original timetable for this $1.2 million endeavor. But even when the restoration was finished, the city found that it still couldn’t put the carousel back into action due to delays in the construction of a new, $2.8 million edifice that it had commissioned for the vintage amusement.

It wasn’t until this past December that city staff members felt comfortable enough about the project’s pace to announce a firm date for the carousel’s long-awaited reactivation at Burlington’s City Park.

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Yet, this grand occasion, which took place as planned on December 22, wasn’t without a few snags of its own – including a technical hiccup that seems to have brought the whole celebration to a halt for a few, breathless moments.

According to John Vernon, a community engagement specialist with the city, the carousel’s revamped inner workings didn’t perform quite as smoothly as hoped when they were reactivated on the evening of 22nd.

“There was a mechanical issue, and they had to call in a maintenance crew,” he recalled earlier this week. “It took about 10 minutes, and just one ride was missed.”

Vernon insisted that this momentary interruption didn’t spoil the fun for the hundreds people who had gathered for the carousel’s reanimation. He went on to add that, during its first week of renewed operation, the carousel logged a total of 13,808 rides – a figure that was presumably buoyed by the city’s decision to offer the amusement free of charge through December 31.

Vernon’s account of the event’s success was echoed by members of Burlington’s city council when they convened their first meeting of 2023 on Tuesday. Particularly exuberant about the carousel’s return was councilmember Kathy Hykes, who enjoined her colleagues not to lose sight of the significance of their collective achievement.

“In city government, it is very difficult to get to the place where you actually finish something,” she declared. “This is one of the few times when we actually got it done, and it’s wonderful.”

On January 1, the city’s recreation and parks department ended its free ride promotion for the newly restored carousel and began charging riders a fee of $1.50 apiece. The department also implemented a three-day-a-week operating schedule – with rides available from 3:00 p.m. Friday, 10:00 a.m. Saturday, and 1:00 p.m. Sunday, until 6:00 p.m. on each of these days.

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