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Carousel out at Fashion Island

Irvine Co. renovations at the mall don’t have room for the merry-go-round, which has been there since 2003.

September 24, 2009|By Brianna Bailey

Local mom Keree James has memories tied to the carousel at Fashion Island. Last weekend, she took her 9-month-old daughter there for her first ride.

James was upset when she heard that the Irvine Co. had plans to do away with the carousel as part of a $100-million face-lift, which the shopping center is undergoing.

“I just didn’t understand why that was necessary — they’re taking kid-friendly aspects out of Fashion Island, when on a weekday, all you see is moms pushing around strollers there.”

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James has started an online petition to save the carousel.

The Carousel Carnivale, as it’s known, has been at Fashion Island since 2003.

The Irvine Co. has announced plans to take down the ride later this year as part of ongoing renovations at the 42-year-old shopping center. The two-year project includes adding Italian-inspired fountains and 150,000 square feet of additional retail space, as well as old-world-style streetlights and paving stones.

The carousel is being dismantled to make way for 4,000 square feet of extra retail space, additional seating and a new fountain in Pacific Court at Fashion Island, said John Christensen, spokesman for the Irvine Co.

“We did hear about the petition, and while we obviously don’t like to hear about customer dissatisfaction, we are pleased the center is a place the community loves that has public spaces people connect with so passionately,” he said.

Renovation plans at Fashion Island already are moving ahead, and it’s probably too late to save the carousel, Christensen said, but customers can still get a refund for any unused carousel tickets or use them at the Irvine Spectrum Center carousel.

Ashley Rodi, a Costa Mesa mother of two, loves to take her daughters on the carousel. Her eldest daughter has a favorite horse to sit on. Her 2-year-old daughter has been riding the carousel since she was 6 months old.

Rodi enjoys meeting her friends at Fashion Island because of kid-friendly amenities, like the carousel. When the carousel leaves Fashion island, Rodi probably will spend more time at the Irvine Spectrum Center, she said.

“We do so much for our kids on a day-to-day basis. Fashion Island is the one place you can go meet your girlfriends and feel like an adult, and the kids still have fun too.”

When Rodi found out the carousel would be taken down, she filed a customer comment card at the center, but has yet to hear back from anyone.

“We kind of feel limited as to what we can do, but we want to make our voices heard. There’s just not too many avenues for it,” Rodi said. “It’s just kind of a grass-roots thing.”


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