SANDPOINT — When the Carousel of Smiles was unveiled to the Sandpoint community last year, it had just been released from a 64-year slumber. Next week, the vintage machine will again be unveiled, this time in its assembled form.
"This is the first time in 65 years that it's going to be assembled," said Reno Hutchison. "It is going to be super exciting to see it all together."
Hutchison's passion for carousels stemmed from her first ride at the Columbia Gardens in Montana as a child. That carousel burned down in 1973, creating in her a desire to find and restore a "golden age" carousel. And so she did.
The 1920s Allan Herschell carousel was packed into two cargo trailers and stored in a field outside of Kansas City when a Midwest traveling fair shut down after the 1952 season and never reopened. Hutchison and her husband, Clay Hutchison, saved the carousel from being broken up and sold at auction when they purchased it 17 years ago. The Hutchisons moved it to a storage barn in upstate New York until it was delivered to Sandpoint and revealed to the public more than a year ago.
The 36 horses are all hand-carved wooden animals. The paint was stripped off the ponies for restoration at one time, but only two were repainted. The carousel also includes two carved chariots, rounding boards and original artwork.
Reno Hutchison said seeing the carousel reassembled is part of the restoration process, to ensure all the parts are there and everything is intact. The bearings, gears and cranks have all been worked on by volunteers.
"For being 100-years-old, they just can't believe what great condition they are in," she said. "They've cleaned up beautifully."
Putting the unrestored, assembled carousel on display is also to raise awareness, Hutchison said, to let people in the community who haven't heard about it or seen a chance to do so.
The carousel will be assembled in the main building at the Bonner County Fairgrounds. Hutchison said there will be several exhibits set up for people to browse. The exhibits will include storyboards about the history of the carousel and its story, information about the nonprofit Carousel of Smiles and more.
The doors open from 1-6 p.m. on Saturday. The curtain will be drawn, revealing the carousel, at 2 p.m. The doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday as well.
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