SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Balboa Park Carousel is celebrating its 100th anniversary. In a remarkable achievement, almost every part of the ride is still the original.
“There’s not too many with all the elements still intact, so that’s what makes this carousel special. It’s like a slice of time, a slice of 1910 when it was built," said carousel manager Bill Brown, who began working there 50 years ago, as a part-time job during high school.
The carousel was built near Buffalo, New York in 1910 during what is now referred to as "The Golden Age of Carousels." It was shipped to Los Angeles. The ride then moved to Coronado, where it was part of Tent City.
When the Navy began expressing interest in taking over that property, the carousel moved again, this time to Balboa Park. Originally located where the Fleet Science Center now stands, the carousel has had its current home near the San Diego Zoo entrance since 1968.
“I’m kind of proud of it, that we’ve kept it going," Brown said.
The ride still operates with its original motor. All but four of the animals are originals (the other four were added in the 1960's).
The biggest changes made to the carousel were the replacement of the bearing from which the whole ride hangs in 2008, the replacement of the electrical wiring for safety and modernization reasons, and a switch to LED light bulbs.
Future plans include some renovation to the structure that houses the ride and the addition of fire sprinklers.
Aside from that, Brown says the goal is to simply maintain the carousel in great shape so it can serve San Diego families for the next 100 years.