Carousel Support and Information: National Carousel Association

National Carousel Association Programs and Projects

By Brian Morgan

The National Carousel Association has dual goals, to enhance the enjoyment and knowledge of the carousel, and the preservation of operating carousels

Programs for members

Annual Convention
Our Quarterly Publication, the Merry-Go-Roundup
Census of operating carousels
Historical census of carousels

Programs for Preservation of Operating Carousels

NCA Preservation Fund Grants
Annual Technical Conference
Carousel Revolving Loan Program (in development)
Conservation Committee-Technical assistance and inquiries
The NCA Miniature collection
National Carousel Association’s Primitive Carousel
Historic Carousel Award

Outreach and Communications

Web Page:
Our Quarterly Publication, the Merry-Go-Roundup


Census of operating carousels

Historical census of carousels

Carousel related inquiries from members and non-members
Speakers bureau
Photoshow Project

We have been fortunate over the years that we have always found enthusiastic members willing to pitch in and work on various projects, without them there would be nothing to report.

Programs for members
Annual Convention

Where can you go where you can have fun, be educated, and behave like a kid without feeling out of place? Why, the NCA’s annual carousel convention, of course. On our conventions you meet up with people who are as crazy about carousels as you are, ride a whole bunch of carousels, and have an opportunity to learn more about your favorite hobby

Historical articles by the experts. Photos of carousels from near and far. News! News! News

The first quarterly issue of the Merry-Go-Roundup was in 1973, shortly after the initial meeting of a group of carousel enthusiasts which evolved into the National Carousel Association. Over the years many knowledgeable people have contributed articles, which have been responsible for a significant portion of what we have all learned about carousels. Copies of these older publications (some Xerox and some originals) are still available from our Secretary. We can find the issue which contains articles about your favorite carousel.

Census Carousels to ride across the USA and Canada

In 1973 the National Carousel Association published their first census of operating carousels in the United States and Canada. This first census was prepared by Barbara Charles based upon an odyssey she made to try and find any carousel still operating. Since that time we have continued to update our census records and issue an updated census every second year. This census is mailed to all our members. Additional copies are available for sale to members and non-members. Our census is also updated regularly on our website. This online census provides a query capability, allowing carousels with specific characteristics to be located quickly.

Historic census of carousels Learn about the carousel your grandmother rode.
Patrick Wentzel, our census chairman, has started an exciting project, developing a complete historic census of carousels. The intent is to have a listing, with information, on all carousels we can find. Over the years we hope to validate and fill in any gaps. At present Patrick is developing a data base format and entering the information from a number of different sources. Patrick would welcome information (as well as documentation and photographs) on carousels not in the current census of operating carousels

The NCA Photo Show Project
In 2004, the NCA Photo Show Project was implemented in an attempt to assemble the most complete set of carousel pictures available on the Web!  This unique program allows volunteer photographers from across the country to donate their pictures and their time to create a photo presentation of their favorite carousels.  And when they've finished, their shows will be made available on our website for the world to see!

Our carousel census entries have been combined with the photo shows.  So when you're viewing a census entry for which there is a photo show, a single click of the mouse will allow you to visit the carousel online!

Programs for Preservation of Operating Carousels Save that carousel so your grandchildren can ride

The NCA is dedicated to the preservation of operating carousels and has a number of tools at our disposal. First and foremost is the NCA Preservation Fund. $5 of each membership is designated for the National Carousel Association’s Preservation Fund. These Funds are used for grants for the preservation and restoration of operating carousels and for related projects. Other funds are received from voluntary additional contributions, the sale of the NCA miniature collection and even legacies from members’ wills.

Early funds for the Preservation Fund came from the NCA Collection of carousel figures. The figures were each cast from an original carving by J erry Reinhardt, painted by Marilyn Reinhardt. Each carving is a copy of an anima l on an operating carousel. Twelve figures were created, ten horses and two mena gerie figures. There are still enough figures in our inventory so that you can e ither buy individual figures or a complete set. Non-profit carousels wishing to use them in fund raising can still get the figures at approximately our cost.

The NCA also developed and sponsors an annual Technical Conference, generally held in Spring, prior to the start of the carousel season. For a nominal fee to cover expenses, representatives from carousels around the country get together for a long weekend of seminars on various topics of interest and a whole lot of networking. Usually a carousel Friends group will volunteer to plan and host the conference. Topics range from the highly technical to fund raising, and even how to run a successful gift shop. A number of our members have joined us at these conferences to learn more about what makes a carousel tick, and to get their carousel fix after a long cold winter.

I want to mention our new Carousel Revolving Loan Program. The NCA Board is developing guidelines for a major loan program. We plan on accumulating a fund of approximately $1,000,000 to enable the NCA to make sizable loans to assist non-profit entities to purchase carousels which are at risk. As the loans are repaid these dollars will be used to fund loans to additional carousels. To make this happen we will need to receive grants from major Foundations as well as sizable donations or commitments from our members.

In these early stages we expect that we will lend up to 30% of the cost of the carousel to a qualified non-profit or government organization, to be repaid, with interest, over three to five years. Loans will only be made where we believe the carousel has realistic plans to be able to pay off the loan within the required period. The borrower will also give the NCA a right, in perpetuity, to require that the carousel not be broken up. The aim is to help serious community conservationists to save an operating carousel. Clearly this is a very ambitious program, but we believe it is worthwhile and can be achieved.

We will also need careful planning to ensure that the loans are repaid and that the NCA’s investment in these carousels is safeguarded. When we have developed these plans further we will have an article in the Merry-Go-Roundup.

Conservation Committee. Wizards of the wheel
The Conservation Committee is available to advise carousels around the country with regards to technical and mechanical issues. We are able to help carousels connect with experienced operators or consultants.

Charles Walker developed a series of conservation and mechanical manuals for the carousel professional while he chaired this committee. NCA representatives attend the annual IAAPA convention where our knowledge a and experience is appreciated by amusement park professionals. In recent years there has been a growth of technical knowledge around the country. We invite people with hand-on experience to join our Conservation Committe.

Primitive Carousel: Older than your grandmother.
In 1993 the Long Island Historical Museum tried to auction off a primitive carousel. They had it on display for a number of years, but because of its fragile condition, the carousel could not be ridden. They wanted an operating carousel for their museum, so they replicated the primitive and then planned to sell the original. Fortunately it did not reach their minimum bid so it was withdrawn from the auction. The NCA had contacted them to express our interest in saving the carousel. A deal was worked out where we got the carousel for a price equivalent to the cost of making the replica. The purchase had to be resolved quickly so it was funded by substantial donations and loans from a small group of our members, supplemented by a contribution from the NCA. One of the terms of the purchase is that the NCA can never sell the carousel. It is currently on display at the C.W. Parker carousel museum in Leavenworth, Kansas. (see article and photos in MGR 24.4)

There is an NCA photo show availble for this carousel. See It Now!

Historic Carousel Award, plaques and recognition
In 1994 the NCA instituted a “Historic Carousel Award” to recognize carousels of distinction and meaning to the local community. Through 2009, 21 carousels have been recognized as Historic carousels, with a new carousel added each year. In addition, the NCA awards recognition plaques to carousels we visit during our conventions and also other deserving carousels. When possible, we like to host our Technical Conferences at carousels which are unlikely to host a full convention. Generally we find that this recognition by the NCA makes the local community more appreciative of the treasure in their midst.

Outreach and Communications: Information and links to the carousel world

Website- webmaster Gary Nance
Many of our efforts evolve over time. With the growth of the internet we have developed our own National Carousel Association website ( The site has information about the NCA and our goals and also links to contact us by email or letter. Other pages include technical information, membership applications and copies of selected articles about carousels from older Merry-Go-Roundups. The website has proved to be extremely helpful; many people who are interested in carousels are finding us through the web. We are also getting a lot of inquiries from carousel owners and enthusiasts. One of these unplanned contacts resulted in the NCA saving Mabel the kiddie Mangels carousel ( see article in Winter 2002 issue). We encourage our members and other interested persons to periodically visit the site and review our latest updates.

Archives Photos and Phenomenal Phacts
Archivists Jerry and Marilyn Reinhardt and a bunch of volunteers

The National Carousel Archives date back to our inception in 1973. As members found references to carousels these were copied and sent to our archives. Later, members sent copies of photos they had taken. By now the archives are stored in 10 file cabinets filled with photos, copies of newspaper or magazine articles, books and research information contributed by our members. Currently, Marilyn Reinhardt and her Archive group have developed computer databases and are cataloging all this information so that information is available when we receive inquiries. Our archivists often can be found digging through the files, searching for information to answer a question.

We are in the process of adding to our library of books. We are actively searching through various sources, including the web, to acquire books on carousels and related fields which will be available for research at our archives. We thank anyone who has books and other materials they would be willing to donate.

Other programs
We often get inquiries from the public about carousels and related issues. Generally these are either identification of a carousel animal or “whatever happened to the carousel I rode when I was a youth”. Lately we have been getting more and more of those through e-mails and our website. These often result in a quick exchange of e-mails and/or a dig into various files.

We have also offered a Speakers bureau, and try and match the request with a local member. We do need to update our list of members who are interested in talking about carousels in their local or nearby communities.

Again, the National Carousel Association is excited about all our programs and projects. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but with your help, the NCA’s goal of preserving carousels will be accomplished.

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Carousel Support and Information: National Carousel Association

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