Volunteers reviving carousel; sponsors still needed

Published 1:26 am Sunday, March 17, 2013

1979, the carousel at Exchange Club park has stood as an iconic centerpiece in the fairgrounds, enjoyed by many in the Brookhaven community.

But time has taken its toll on the merry-go-round. Today it resembles an antiquated museum piece, worn from years of service and exposure to the weather.

Through the help of sponsors and numerous volunteers, the Exchange Club has begun the process of restoring the carousel to its original state.

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Overseeing renovations is Jeremy Brown, Exchange Club member and personal advocate for the ride’s revival.

Brown recalls the many joyful experiences he spent as a child on the carousel. He hopes to ensure future generations can enjoy it as he did.

“It has sentimental meaning to a lot people in the community,” he said.

Brown and some other volunteers have worked tediously, hand painting the 30 horses and updating all other components that make up the ride. His, and others’, personal devotion to the project is one of monetary necessity.

“It would cost five thousand dollars a horse if I sent them to a factory to be re-furbished,” he said.

Still, the work is costly. Brown estimates the cost of the entire project to be approximately $25,000. He has already raised $4,500 through generous sponsors, two of them donating $1,000 a piece he explained.

Regardless of expenses, Brown is determined to finish in time for this year’s Exchange Club fair, held annually during the week before school returns from summer break.

“I’m going to make it work with what I have,” he said.

Brown has recruited a number of volunteers to join in the crusade, each spending countless hours working on the ride.

One of them is Bill Smith, a 25-year-member of the Exchange Club. Smith views the project from a historical preservation perspective.

“They just don’t make ’em like they used to,” Smith said while knocking on the hollow, aluminum mane of one of the horses. “These days they make them out of plastic.”

Fair-goers will have a chance to see some of Brown’s and Smith’s efforts this Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. when the Exchange Club opens the fairgrounds for “Ride the Rides,” benefiting the Lincoln County Forestry Commission. Wristbands can be purchased for $15 and allow unlimited access to rides and attractions.

Brown intends to display 10 of the horses at the event, showcasing the endeavors of the project.

If you would like to help with the restoration process you can contact Brown at (601) 757-3338. Volunteers are encouraged and sponsor names will be permanently displayed in the carousel building.