Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sustainable Saturday-Happy 90th Birthday to You

Today, a park in Johnson City, New York celebrated a special 90th birthday with a Carousel Festival and cake for visitors.

Part of sustainable living?  Yes, because these carousels build community.  A community needs activities for its young.

CFJ Park in Johnson City is one of six parks in our area who received gifts from a local industrialist and philanthropist, George F. Johnson.  Johnson grew up poor, and could not afford to ride the carousels in his native Massachusetts.  He vowed that the children of the "Triple Cities" of upstate New York would always be able to ride area carousels.  He donated six carousels on condition that they would remain free, forever.  In turn, our community has kept that promise.

This year, CFJ's Park carousel turns 90.

All six carousels were manufactured by the Allan-Herschell Company of North Towanda, New York.

Each of the carousels has a panel showing their manufacturer.

CFJ Park is named after C. Fred Johnson, George F. Johnson's brother. Even Johnson City, New York, was renamed (its original name was Lestershire) after George F. Johnson.

Its carousel is the largest of the six carousels and contains 61 horses and one zebra.

This is the structure that houses the carousel.
When you enter, this is what you see.

Each of the horses is decorated with "jewels" and are individually decorated so that no two are exactly the same. All animals on a Johnson-donated carousel are "jumpers" i.e. they move up and down.

Panels above the horses are all decorated.  I don't think these are the original paintings but I love this one of hot air balloons.  In another week, our community will celebrate our annual Spiediefest which includes a Hot Air Balloon Rally.

One of the heads that decorate the top of the carousel.

Another one of the paintings (a bit overexposed, I'm afraid).

When my son was growing up, we spent many happy hours together on the carousels and it because a Labor Day tradition, for a few years, that I take his picture on a horse.

Sometimes I think that young children in our area are some of the luckiest in our country, because they have six carousels, all free, to ride during the summertime.  It's too bad their luck runs out when they grow up and it is time for them to look for jobs - but that is a post for another day.

Happy birthday, CFJ Carousel!

If you visit the Southern Tier of upstate New York during the summer - or are a Twilight Zone fan - you owe it to yourself to take a spin on one of these free, historic carousels from the 1920's.  And when you do, thank a poor boy from Massachusetts who grew up to delight generations of children.


  1. Well Haapy Birthday to both of us!

    1. Happy birthday to you, too Caro (although, with our time zone difference, I'm sure it is almost over.) I hope you had an enjoyable one!

  2. It's wonderful that the local children can rise on these historic carousels without the need to pay. What a great legacy for anyone to leave behind. Loved the pictures.

    1. Thank you, Francene. I have more, and I may post them at a future date.

  3. Replies
    1. It is - we are so fortunate here in the Triple Cities.

  4. Oh! We lived in Story City, Ia, for a few years, where there was a restored carousel made by the same company. It was absolutely charming, with many different elaborately-painted animals to ride, including a couple of chickens. I loved to take the kids down to the park where it was located to listen to the music and ride the carousel. Thanks for bringing back this sweet memory!

    1. Amy, there is a website where you can view the Story City carousel animals and I looked at them and the other artwork with with fascination. That carousel, by the way is older than CFJ's - 1913. It is celebrating its 100th birthday. Herschell and the four company names it operated under through the years also has quite a fascinating history and I hope to visit its carousel museum in North Tonawanda, NY one day. But it's almost a 4 hour drive from here so it might be a while until we can wrap it into a trip.


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