KINGSPORT, Tenn. - It's been almost ten years now since Kingsport resident Gale Joh had a dream of the city having its own carousel.
Even though he has since passed away, his dream is slowly becoming a reality. A generous gift from Pal Barger, the founder of Pal's Restaurants, last week means construction of a building to house the carousel can begin.
That means the many volunteers helping with the project can shift into high gear. We took a look at the actual machine that will run this dream project.
Stowed away in a garage in downtown Kingsport is the business end of the city's carousel project -- the working parts of a 1956 Herschel Carousel, donated to the city by the Bridgeport Connecticut Zoo. "This is what we call the frame and it truly makes everything go 'round," project coordinator Reggie Martin says.
Just as the carvers are hard at work getting all of the animals ready, volunteers have been at work here getting the old machine back in running condition. "They've been at work all along but just quietly. We had to remove about 50 years of grease from all of the mechanical parts before we could start working on them and they've spent literally months removing all of the grease and inspecting all the parts," Martin said.
All of the boards that surround the carousel are getting a facelift and a fresh coat of paint getting ready for the next stage. "The rounding boards and the light boards that we're working on, that's the real decorative elements of the carousel. They're just turning out beautifully," he says.
In a couple of weeks volunteer painters will come in to put the extra touches on them; in about a month construction will begin on a building to house the refurbished carousel. "Animals are being carved and painted, we have about 14 now that are completely finished. We have one sweep animal that's finished and all of our other large animals are underway now either being carved or being painted," he said.
And by next summer, the region will have its first old-time carousel to enjoy year-round.