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Olcott Carousel Park to celebrate 12 years

OLCOTT – The Olcott Beach Carousel Park has officially been open a dozen years, and it’s celebrating with a Community Appreciation Day from noon to 6 p.m. today..

The day, which will feature a Roaring ’20s-style party, also will celebrate the 86th anniversary of its 1928 Herschell-Spillman carousel.

The Omnipresent Puppet Theater will present “The Three Little Pigs” at 12:15 and 3:15 p.m. on the Tom Kelley Rustic Theater stage. The Olcott Fire Company will offer rides on one of its fire trucks from 1 to 3 p.m.

Throughout the day, there will be free carousel rides, face-painting, washable tattoos, cookies, antique cars on display and special visits by Popeye and Olive Oyl. All other rides will be the usual 25 cents.

In addition, the Barroom Buzzards will perform from 2 to 4 p.m. next door at the Olcott Gazebo.

“This is our way of giving back to the community for everything it has done for us through the year,” said Rosemary Sansone, president of the volunteer-operated park. “It’s just a little thank-you.”

There is never an admission fee at the park, located at 5979 Main St.

The park features the 1928 carousel, as well as five vintage rides from the 1940s and ’50s. It also boasts an arcade with seven Skee Ball machines, a rocking chair pavilion, a checkerboard table, a theater, a pick-up-a-duck game and new bathrooms.

The idea for the park grew out of Sansone’s involvement with the Niagara County Legislature’s Krull Park Development Committee. She originally had been interested in restoring the dilapidated carousel roundhouse that had been built in the 1940s as part of the original “Olcott Amusement Park” and abandoned in the mid-1980s. The round wooden structure that anchors the present park at one time contained a 1920s Herschell-Spillman carousel, very similar to the one that now graces the building.

Once restoration was underway, donations of money, memorabilia and time increased, and the project grew to include the establishment of a new carousel park.

More than a dozen years ago, the late Jack Campbell, of Culver, Ind., spotted an ad for old Olcott photographs in a carousel trade magazine and contacted the fledgling park group. He had painstakingly restored a 1928 Herschell-Spillman carousel and four accompanying rides, which he eventually sold to the park.

Interestingly, a 1940s ride featuring fire trucks and cars had originally been used in Olcott.

The park was finally taking shape and officially opened in 2002. The Town of Newfane owns the property and rents it to the nonprofit park.

Attendance figures rise each year at the park, Sansone said.

The park’s treasurer, Gary Cammarata, concurred.

“I go by how many ride tickets we sell, and each year, we order more and more tickets,” he said. “Last year, we sold around 140,000 tickets, and this year, we’ll go through about 165,000.”

“Every year is our best yet,” said Sansone. “It keeps getting better and better.”

The carousel park will celebrate its final day of the season on Labor Day, with Rob and Carol Allen’s Magic Show at 2:30 p.m. at the Tom Kelley Rustic Theater.

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