Buttonwood Park Zoo unveils carousel

The tiger will perpetually roar as it circles the new carousel that debuted at New Bedford's Buttonwood Park Saturday. David W. Oliveira/Standard-Times special

By Dan McDonald

NEW BEDFORD —Jennifer Chase was among those in line to take a ride on a piece of nostalgia on Saturday, as the Buttonwood Park Zoo christened its carousel.

Chase said it reminded her of the old carousel at the now-defunct Lincoln Park.
“I think it’s wonderful the work that’s been put into the park. It enables the younger generations to enjoy it,” said Chase, a Dartmouth native and currently a Providence resident.

The 28-foot structure had all the trappings associated with a traditional merry-go-round: organ-heavy carnival music, lots of mirrors, and 18 different plastic animals slowly moving up and down while the whole thing rotated. The two minute rides cost $2.

“It’s closer than the one in Fall River. My daughter likes that one and she’s a big fan of the zoo, we have a family membership,” said Ray Hoben, 36, of Mattapoisett as he watched his daughter Fiona, 4, go round on a deer.
“It’s definitely nice,” said Nathan Davis, 29, of New Bedford, waving to his three-year-old daughter Amelia, as she went round. “It’s not just some piece of junk they found on the side of the road.”

Patrick Summers, assessing the carousel after his four-year-old twin daughters, Lili and Ella, exited their second ride on the merry-go-round, said “They enjoyed it. They’ve been to many, many carousels and for them, this is part of summer.”
Bristol County Savings Bank financed the purchase of the ride with a $350,000 loan.

Plans to erect a pavilion that will house the merry-go-round, so it can be a year-round attraction will likely cost $30,000, said Dr. Bill Langbauer, zoo director.

City workers put the carousel together in one day. The city also donated labor to pour the concrete slab upon which the carousel sits.

Langbauer called the unveiling of the carousel, which was made by the Kansas-based ride manufacturing company Chance Morgan, “a warm-up for our master plan.”

Proposals for the master plan include an upgrade and expansion of the elephant facilities to allow the zoo to house three elephants. The zoo presently has two. Other proposals on the table for the master plan include a snow monkey exhibit and an exhibit featuring a large cat such as a tiger, said Langbauer.

July 25, 2010

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