Niagara Gazette — NORTH TONAWANDA — With any luck, this will be a big year for the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, thanks to a few fondly remembered old amusement rides.
Museum director Rae Proefrock said that in addition to a full slate of events and activities, this season should finally see the grand opening of the long-awaited Kiddieland rides in the lot adjacent to the museum at 180 Thompson St.
“We have an extremely busy season and we start work again April 15 on Kiddieland,” she said. “We’re going to be cautious and open Kiddieland during Canal Fest. It might be open before then; we might have a soft opening, but we plan to have a opening event at Canal Fest.”
The pony cart ride, kiddie helicopter ride and kiddie boat ride from the old Page’s Whistle Pig in Niagara Falls, as well as a kiddie car ride from another donor, were all constructed in the 1940s and 1950s in the building that now houses the museum.
Concrete pads and wooden shelters currently await the rides, but metal roofs and doors, paving stones and landscaping still need to be added. In addition, the helicopter ride will be returning soon from a much-needed restoration, Proefrock said.
“Les Powers, owner of Powers Great American Midways, which does Canal Fest every year ... has taken the helicopter ride to his shop in North Carolina and completely restored it,” she said. “It’s going to come back brand-new, sparkling beautiful.
“That’s an incredible gift. It would have cost a fortune to do this.”
Powers also donated funds to build pavilions for the rides, Proefrock said.
The Kiddieland rides will be considered an exhibit of the museum, so people will pay regular museum rates for admission. As with the building’s large 1916 and small 1940s aluminum carrousels, visitors will receive one token with admission, but can purchase addition tokens for 50 cents.