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Editorial: KeyBank’s $1.2 million donation moves Canalside carousel closer to its goal

The good news keeps coming for Buffalo Heritage Carousel, the solar-powered merry-go-round that is due to be spinning at Canalside in 2018.

The latest: KeyBank announced it will match Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s $1.2 million state challenge grant, made in October, for the construction of a building to house the vintage 1924 carousel.

The donations reflect the excitement building for the revival of the carousel, made by Spillman Engineering Co. in North Tonawanda. It was bought by Domenick De Angelis, a hardworking immigrant who ended up leaving a legacy this community will enjoy for years to come to be enjoyed by all.

Back in 1924 De Angelis bought a fancy, park-style menagerie carousel from one of the Herschell-Spillman companies in North Tonawanda. News staff reporter Mark Sommer relayed the fascinating story of how the man and his family ran the carousel for decades until closing it down in 1956, four years after De Angelis died. The family held it in storage, steadfast in the desire to someday have the carousel operated in a manner that honored De Angelis’ memory.

Laurie Hauer-LaDuca, a Clarence architect and carousel enthusiast, joined with Buffalo Heritage Carousel and spent 2½ years in an effort to acquire the ride. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. agreed to host the carousel, and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation offered to buy it once a Canalside site was designated.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan obtained a $600,000 grant to restore the carousel, which will be on the Dunbar Block near Clinton’s Dish ice cream stand. As part of the grant, Ryan insisted, the ride has to be “low cost.” It will be: $1.

Of course, it takes money to restore a dream, and more to build it a home.

KeyBank’s announcement brings the total amount pledged to $3.4 million. It edges the capital campaign 25 percent closer to its $4.8 million goal. Corky Burger, director of the capital campaign, is confident the community will meet the goal. Given the interest in the ride, it seems a near certainty to be reached.

A different sort of fundraising pitch – sponsorships for individual horses – is bringing in donations of from $7,000 to $100,000.

The restoration work itself is to begin in February, with first rides coming in summer 2018.

To reinforce the Erie Canal theme, a recently purchased vintage 1916 Herschell-Spillman mule will be restored as A Mule Named Sal. And there will be a handicapped-accessible Erie Canal barge chariot.

It’s enough to make the kid in all of us jump for joy.

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