The carousel salvaged from the defunct Joyland amusement park may be whirling again as soon as next year, the executive director of the Botanica gardens said Tuesday.
Botanica has raised the first million dollars – enough to pay for restoration of the carousel, Marty Miller said.
That’s part one in a roughly $3 million campaign that also includes a glass-and-steel pavilion to house it and a “Grand Lawn” with seating space for 3,000 and a bandstand large enough to hold the Wichita Symphony.
The carousel is one of the last original pieces left from Joyland, which operated from 1949 until 2004 at 2801 S. Hillside.
After it was declared permanently closed in 2006, vandals, arsonists and thieves took their toll on the abandoned park. Joyland owner Margaret Nelson Spear donated the carousel to Botanica in 2014.
Now, parts of the carousel are spread across the community being cleaned and restored, Miller said.
He said his goal is to bring the parts back together in time to reassemble the carousel’s running gear for mechanical testing by the end of this year.
The 36 original wooden horses are being restored in a workshop at Botanica by restoration artist Marlene Irvin, who rode the merry-go-round as a child.
Miller said if Botanica can raise about $2 million during the peak summer season this year, the carousel will likely be up and running again by the end of 2018.
“We raised $3 million for the children’s garden (at Botanica) in less than a year, so it’s not an impossible task,” he said.
Miller said the most frequent question he gets is whether “Louie” – Joyland’s beloved but somewhat creepy animatronic clown – will be put on display with the merry-go-round.
Not to be, Miller said, although Louie “may come visit from time to time.”
Botanica, built on land donated to the city for perpetual park use, is jointly operated by the city government and Botanica Inc., a nonprofit organization.
As part of the fundraising, Botanica is raffling off two carousel horses made by Chance Manufacturing, a Wichita company that builds amusement rides.
The horses up for raffle, called “Pretty Lady” and “Crazy Horse,” are not part of the original Joyland set but were donated to help raise money for the restoration project, Miller said.
Tickets for the drawing can be purchased for $25 or five for $100 through May 8. Winners will be announced May 11.
“We hope everyone in the community would help with this project,” Miller said.
City Council member James Clendenin, who represents the south Wichita area where Joyland used to be, said he was pleased with the progress toward the carousel restoration.
He said it’s “preserving part of Wichita and a lot of people’s childhoods.”