Tonawanda News — At long last, the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum’s new Kiddieland exhibit is coming to fruition.
Several years, countless hours of work and nearly $350,000 later, the museum’s exhibit of Herschell children’s rides will open to the public on Labor Day weekend, said museum director Rae Proefrock.
“It’s beyond what we ever dreamed of,” she said. “We’re just so excited.”
The exhibit, built adjacent to the museum at 180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda, in a newly fenced-in area, features four refurbished rides — a pony cart ride, kiddie helicopter ride and kiddie boat ride that used to run at Page’s Whistle Pig in the Town of Niagara, as well as a kiddie car ride from another donor. All the rides are from the 1940s to the 1950s, and all were produced back in the day at that building on Thompson Street.
The exhibit will open for an opening dedication by invitation only Aug. 22, although the rides likely won’t be running, Proefrock said. More than 150 people, including contractors, donors and volunteers, have been invited to the special reception that evening.
“When we started writing down everyone who helped, it was amazing,” Proefrock said.
At noon Aug. 31, the exhibit and rides will open to the public. Hours will be noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, then noon to 4 p.m. weekends through mid-October, weather permitting, before things close down for the season.
Since Kiddieland is considered an exhibit of the museum, regular museum admission is required for the rides. Admission — currently $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for children 2 to 16 — includes one ride token, which can be used on any of the Kiddieland rides or the 1916 No. 1 Special carousel and 1940s kiddie carrousel inside. Additional tokens are 50 cents.
Proefrock pointed out that one way to visit the new exhibit frequently at a lesser cost is to become a Carousel Society of the Niagara Frontier member — and for opening weekend, the cost for a family membership will be reduced to $40 instead of $55.
Height and weight restrictions have not been set yet. The three smaller rides are just for children, while the helicopter ride can accommodate one adult and child or two children.
There is also a small building on site for admission and some refreshments (eventually), a slightly scaled down replica of a Pure Oil service station with its steeply pitched roof and distinctive look, Proefrock said.
The roof tiles and metal canopies are from an original Pure Oil building, she said. They were salvaged by museum board member Ed Janulionis and his wife, Barbara Willis, and are more than 100 years old.