After being dormant for more than 18 months due to a pandemic and political turmoil, the historic Friedsam Memorial Carousel in Central Park will delight children once again, beginning this fall.
The operators of Luna Park in Coney Island, Central Amusement International, announced that the Parks Department has awarded them a contract to reopen the historic merry-go-round in the autumn. The firm will take over operations from the Trump Organization, which lost its city contracts earlier this year due to the former president’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“We are thrilled to be the new operators of the iconic Friedsam Memorial Carousel,” said Alessandro Zamperla, president and CEO of Central Amusement International. “We look forward to working closely in partnership with our community, NYC Parks, the City of New York, and the Central Park Conservancy to ensure there is continued enjoyment and preservation of this incredible New York City treasure.”
Central Amusement International previously operated Victorian Gardens, an amusement park that operated every spring and summer at Wollman Rink, which the Trump Organization also operated until this year. Victorian Gardens closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will likely not reopen — as the city chose new vendors to renovate the rink and operate food vending and entertainment on site, according to Patch.
“The Friedsam Memorial Carousel is a work of art and one of the largest and most popular carousels in the country — and thanks to Central Amusement International Inc., it will reopen this fall for New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy,” said acting Parks Commissioner Margaret Nelson. “We are happy to have selected CAI through our competitive RFP (request for proposals) process, and we look forward to working with them to operate this historic Central Park gem.”
Central Park has had a carousel since 1871, and the current merry-go-round dates back to 1908 in the middle of the park, off 64th Street. An updated version was opened in 1951.
Crafted by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein, the electronic ride features 57 hand-carved horses and two embellished chariots, along with a mechanical organ playing classic marches, waltzes and polkas. It’s been restored repeatedly through its years of operation.
The carousel is named in honor of noted philanthropist Michael Friedsam.