Kingsport, Tenn. - They're about to give it a whirl. The efforts of an entire city will soon be a spot of pride -- after nearly four years of work Kingsport is in the final phase of getting an old-fashioned carousel.
On Thursday the city and all those involved broke ground for the carousel roundhouse that will house their project in downtown.
It looked and sounded like a circus parade as hand-carved carousel animals made their way down a Kingsport street. The animals represent years of work by hundreds of volunteers making a dream come true.
We've been following the carousel project through its stages, from carving animals to the finished product. We've watched as old machinery to operate the carousel was refurbished to make it all work.
All that was needed was a building to house it. That final phase got underway as a crowd gathered for a ceremonial ground breaking for that building. "We started in January of 2010 with our first animals, and now we're talking about a building to house all of our animals. There will be 32 gorgeous animals that you see out here today. Riding on that carousel is going to be a wonderful thing," volunteer Reggie Martin says.
It was an idea from Gayle Joh, who unfortunately died during the process. His wife Valerie was one of the first to say it was an unreal idea. She jokingly told him, "When pigs fly will we have a carousel in Kingsport."
The pig that she carved, seen above, is flying high today as the idea is in its final stages. "I think the amazing thing is a lot of my heirs, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, ones that don't know me, will probably say, 'My grandmother carved that horse or carved that pig.' So that's a fun thing, and I think Gayle's grandchildren will feel the same way. It's just a special, special day," Valerie said.
As the dirt flies during the ceremonial groundbreaking, thoughts turn to all of those who've been a part of this project. "We've got over 200 volunteers, whether they're carvers or they're working on the frame, or they're painters. We have wonderful, wonderful volunteers, over 200 of them," Martin said.
And they'll have one proud city when they ring the bell for that first ride.