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Comments & Curiosities: News stirring my carousel phobia

May 23, 2010|Peter Buffa

When it's time to go, it's time to go. That applies to people, light bulbs and carousels, and for the carousel at Fashion Island, last January was time to go.

The merry-go-round had served well, kids and non-kids loved it, it went round and round, which is a good thing, but Fashion Island was getting fluffed and folded in an Italian village makeover and a whirling, twirling carousel was not the best fit. The carousel was dismantled, packed up in lots and lots of bubble wrap and shipped back to its maker, Barrango Manufacturing.

That might have been the end of the story, but carousels can be stubborn things and sometimes they can't be stopped, so to speak. Just this week, a decision in the not-distant city of Irvine means the former Fashion Island carousel will soon become the Great Park carousel.

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The city will pony up $213,525 for the carousel from Great Park development funds, plus another couple of hundred grand to buff it up, swap out the Venice scenes that were on the Fashion Island version for Great Park scenes, although I'm not sure what that means, and install it. When it's all done, the little spinner will become part of the "Kids Rock" play area.

Did the Fashion Island carousel have a long history — built long ago and far away by Old World craftsman and first used in some European capital? Not exactly. Barrango Manufacturing built the carousel for Fashion Island in 2003, which is not long ago, and the company is in San Francisco, which is not far away.

But it is true that carousels have been around for a long time — since medieval times at least — and people do love them. Except for me, which I probably shouldn't tell you, but it's too late now. To be honest, they kind of creep me out.

The way some kids react to clowns — that's how I felt about carousels. The charging horses, the figures with frozen smiles, the organ music and the booming bass drum, very high creep factor. Is that just me? I don't think so.

See if any of these ring a bell: in "The Lost Boys," vampires love to hang out on the roof of the carousel on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Organ music is bad enough, but throw in vampires on the roof and I am gone, in the car, doors locked, down the road.

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