Tonawanda News — The rides are resting in storage now, at least until spring. The music is quiet, and the shelters are hidden by snow.
But for six weekends this past summer and fall, the dream that was the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum’s Kiddieland exhibit came to life at the North Tonawanda museum, drawing hundreds of people to take a spin and learn more about one of NT’s most notable claims to fame.
After years of planning and work, the exhibit — featuring four working rides all constructed by the Herschell company — officially opened Aug. 31. It marked the culmination of about five years of planning, fundraising and work, said Rae Proefrock, museum director.
“It was very good for us,” she said. “Some people came every weekend. We sold about 100 memberships. If we can do anywhere near as well over the summer, we’ll be very excited.”
During opening weekend, Ed Janulionis, a museum board member who runs the Allen Herschell Company and helped spearhead the project, estimated that Kiddieland cost about $350,000. “If you added the volunteer hours, you’re probably talking another $100,000 or more.
“That’s how big this project turned out to be. I think it’s been worth it,” he said at that time. “This is great for the community. I’m hoping the community does take advantage of this. It’s for them.”
The rides in their sheltered and landscaped area include three that once ran at Page’s Whistle Pig in the Town of Niagara — a 1949 pony cart ride, 1961 helicopter ride, 1957 boat ride, and a 1946 car and firetruck ride donated by Sam Hummel of North Carolina.
“I just love the comments from the people who had ridden the rides at Page’s,” Proefrock said. “That’s what we were trying to do, bring back all those memories.”
The exhibit is expected to open for its first full season on Memorial Day weekend in 2014. The museum opens for its spring hours April 2.