Take a ride on Dayton history: ‘This is the only carousel of this kind in the world’

The Carousel of Dayton Innovation at Carillon Historical Park is a whimsical ride made of 32 hand-carved wooden features that are icons of Dayton history.

Carillon Historical Park’s hand-carved carousel celebrates the Gem City’s past

Take a spin around Dayton’s history.

The Carousel of Dayton Innovation is an amusement ride at Carillon Historical Park made of 32 hand-carved icons from the Gem City’s past.

“This is the only carousel of this kind in the world,” Brady Kress, president and CEO of Dayton History, said. “No other carousel tells the story of Dayton with its figures.

Brady Kress, president and CEO of Dayton History, developed the Carousel of Dayton Innovation at Carillon Historical Park, to help young visitors learn about the Gem City’s history. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Brady Kress, president and CEO of Dayton History, developed the Carousel of Dayton Innovation at Carillon Historical Park, to help young visitors learn about the Gem City’s history. LISA POWELL / STAFF

“There are plenty of carousels around the world that you can get on a glitzy horse and go around in circles, but this is the only place where you’re going to be able to jump on an Iams dog food bag or a cash register.”

Each of the brightly painted wooden figures on the carousel tells a piece of Dayton’s story.

Among the icons spinning around the ride is a larger than life Scipio, the Saint Bernard dog that belonged to Orville Wright; a box of Esther Price chocolates; a Mikesell’s potato chip bag; and a soap box derby car.

The carousel was designed to appeal to younger park visitors who aren’t allowed to touch the historic artifacts on display elsewhere in the history-soaked park.

“There are a lot of Dayton stories that are fun to ride around on, and kids then have a connection,” Kress said.

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Children of all ages can learn about the Gem City’s history of canal boats, the pop-top can and the Huffy Radiobike astride the brightly painted replicas on the carousel.

It took a team of six carvers and seven artists from The Carousel Works, a Mansfield-based company, to create the ride that was installed in the park’s Heritage Center of Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship in 2011.

The Carousel of Dayton Innovation, at Carillon Historical Park, is a whimsical ride made of 32 hand-carved figures from the Gem City’s history. LISA POWELL / STAFF
The Carousel of Dayton Innovation, at Carillon Historical Park, is a whimsical ride made of 32 hand-carved figures from the Gem City’s history. LISA POWELL / STAFF

As it spins to music coming from a calliope, the inside hub of the carousel, detailed with illustrations, tell the Wright brothers’ story from boyhood to their aviation success.

On the exterior are painted scenes created from turn-of-the century illustrations depicting major achievements in Dayton.

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“It’s a massive piece of art with all of the hand painting that was done on the outside,” Kress said. “You can really sit and study it for quite a while. Everything has a tie back to the Miami Valley.”

A ride on the carousel is $1. Visitors with the park’s $100 supporting membership get unlimited carousel rides at no charge.

The carousel is accessible for people with disabilities and has chariots that don’t move up and down. Among them is a large NCR cash register with a hinged seat that allows for a wheelchair.

HOW TO GO:

What: Carousel of Dayton Innovation

Where: Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton

Hours: Mondays through Saturdays: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays: Noon to 5 p.m.

Admission: $12 per adult (ages 18-59), $10 per senior, $8 per child (3-17), children under 3 and Dayton History members free.

For more information: www.daytonhistory.org

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