Tonawanda News

Local News

September 1, 2013

Living history -- Herschell style

After years of work and planning, museum's Kiddieland opens to public

Tonawanda News — With the snip of a bright orange ribbon and a stampede of small feet, the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum’s Kiddieland exhibit opened to the public Saturday, bringing to fruition years of work and dreams on behalf on the museum and its volunteers.

The first ride to start spinning was the 1949 pony cart, which once ran at Page’s Whistle Pig in the Town of Niagara, followed by the 1946 car and firetruck ride donated by Sam Hummel of North Carolina. The 1961 helicopter and 1957 boat ride soon followed until all four rides, laden with children, were in brightly colored motion in the museum’s side yard on Thompson Street in North Tonawanda.

Museum Director Rae Proefrock — who up until minutes before the ribbon-cutting was actually giving the car ride a final scrub — eventually took a brief break ... and a deep breath.

“It feels very good,” she said. “I just feel like I’m floating. It’s just so fun to finally see kids on there.”

Proefrock lauded all of those who put their time and effort into making the exhibit — referred to as Kiddieland Testing Park because the company used to invite children to test out the rides before they were shipped out — a reality, including volunteers Al Baker and Craig Stock and others who worked ceaselessly on the mechanics of the venerable rides, each of which was made right in North Tonawanda.

Stock, who lives right around the corner from the museum, was on site Saturday, down on a knee and peering at the workings of the car ride even as his granddaughter, Madison Burns, 2 1/2, rode around and around on it, waving and calling to him.

He downplayed his role in the park with a smile, preferring to give credit elsewhere.

“I didn’t do anything compared to these guys. They’re the heroes,” he said. “We had a lot of things to get ready, but everything’s solid. We’re just making it so it runs and the kids have a good time. The little ones, you can see the smiles on their faces. 

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