Carousel gets another go-round

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: August 19, 2011 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Suppliers, Film & Sheet

GRAND JUNCTION, COLO. (Aug. 19. 3:55 p.m. ET) — Almost 30 years after being rescued from a defunct amusement park, a carousel ride will be restarted next month at Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York.

And when it starts spinning again, the carousel will be surrounded by sheets of acrylic plastic made by Reynolds Polymer Technology Inc. of Grand Junction.

The 89-year-old carousel is set to reopen Sept. 15 in the park, which is positioned between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.

All four walls of the building housing the carousel will be made of R-Cast-brand acrylic panels, with two of them sliding open accordion-style for the public, Reynolds marketing manager Julie Hober said in an Aug. 17 phone interview.

The panels of the sides that open are almost 25 feet tall and average 3 feet wide. The panels on the other two sides are more than 27 feet tall and almost 10 feet wide. But Hober said the panels are not the largest that Reynolds has ever made. The firm has done amusement park work for Walt Disney Co. and Sea World, as well as complex architectural designs for resorts and residences, tunnels and viewing windows and for aquariums and zoos, and other structures.

Reynolds, which provides design and engineering services, is a leading producer of custom acrylic sheet and claims to be the only acrylic aquarium panel maker in the United States. A single-pour casting process lets the firm to create custom shapes.

The panels used in the carousel building were made at Reynolds’ plant in Grand Junction. The firm also operates a plant in Thailand.

Reynolds became involved in the carousel project two years ago. It was one of several firms that bid, but was the only one based in the United States, according to Hober.

Reknowned architect Jean Nouvel chose acrylic over glass for the panels because the material requires less structural support and therefore allows for better, more expansive views, Hober added.

According to Hober, although acrylic has half the weight of glass, it’s 17 times as strong. The panels will allow the carousel to be on display year-round, even in inclement weather.

“The structural strength of our acrylic allows for larger views,” Reynolds CEO Roger Reynolds III said in a news release.

The carousel itself was bought for $350,000 in 1984 by New York couple Jane and David Walentas. They bought it from Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio, which had just closed that year — after 85 years of operation — after a major fire.

Parts of the carousel — built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. and labeled as PTC #61 — had been scorched by the fire, and other parts were in disrepair and in need of new paint.

Jane Walentas — an artist — has spent the intervening years restoring the carousel to its original condition, even going so far as to recreate paint formulations used in 1922 when the carousel was built.

It’s no wonder that the 50-foot-diameter ride — consisting of 48 horses and two chariots — has come to be known as Jane’s Carousel.

Her husband David is a real estate developer who was involved with the development of the park — formerly known as Empire Fulton Ferry State Park — where the carousel will be located. The couple paid for the carousel’s restoration and donated it to the park, which is only a few blocks away from the warehouse where the carousel has been stored.

“My hope is for every child who lives in Brooklyn, as well as those who cross the river or visit from around the globe, to have the opportunity to experience this 1922 carousel, in this beautiful park, in this amazing building, set on the river with this extraordinary view,” Jane Walentas said in a news release.

“Imagine riding your favorite horse, with the Brooklyn Bridge towering overhead as tug boats pass by,” she added. “It doesn’t get much better.”


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Carousel gets another go-round

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: August 19, 2011 6:00 am ET

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