SEASIDE HEIGHTS – Floyd L. Moreland looked a bit sad as he looked around the Casino Pier Arcade, watching the historic carousel which bears his name being disassembled.
“It is a bittersweet moment,” Moreland, of Ortley Beach, remarked but he knows the carousel’s removal will have a time of revival and in a whole new environment where it can be appreciated even more.
Movement of the iconic 109-year-old historic Dentzel/Looff carousel took place in early November from its longtime home on the boardwalk-based Casino Pier Arcade. It will get a whole new life in two years’ time.
Workmen from the firm Carousels and Carvings of Marion, Ohio, meticulously carried out 53 hand-carved, hand-painted horses for storage in an area warehouse for restoration.
The eventual plan is for the carousel to have a newly-built home along the boardwalk starting a whole new era of life for riders young and old.
Moreland said the carousel closed down in April after it was obtained from the Casio Pier by the borough.
Borough Mayor Anthony Vaz said the governing body intends to restore it and provide it a new permanent home in a pavilion on the site of what is now a gravel parking lot four blocks north of the arcade. “It will be put into storage in the borough for now but it will have a new home along Sampson Avenue and Ocean Terrace.
“We received two matching grants at $750,000 each, one for the merry-go-round and one for construction of the new Carousel Pavilion. Seaside Heights now has a historical society that Floyd is a big part of and this new facility will serve as a museum,” he said.
The grants were provided by the Garden State Preservation Trust and the Green Acres Local Assistance Program.
“It is sad to watch this but I know it will back. The animals all went yesterday and today they are taking down the platform. The last to go was a tiger who looked a little confused as to where all his friends went,” Moreland said with a grin.
It is expected that the carousel will start up again during the summer of 2021. It will also serve as an amenity for special receptions held in an event space planned as part of a new pavilion.
“They have been great,” Moreland said of Todd W. Goings, who heads Carousels and Carvings, and who is well known in the industry. “Not too many people do this type of work but they number everything, they’re very meticulous.”
Moreland chairs the Seaside Heights Historical Society, which was convened by Vaz last spring to raise money for the carousel’s preservation. The organization has its own Facebook page and its activities are promoted by the borough Business Improvement District which produces an online newsletter each month.
Goings said that he traveled to the borough early in the month having won the bid to do the work. He brought with him three other workers from his company. “We’ve done work at piers off Long Island and in California.”
“They’re all very congenial and they know what they are doing. They care about their work,” Moreland said.
Moreland noted that the carousel had been experiencing some mechanical issues that will be examined and repaired before it starts up again in two years.
“We hope to get the bid to come back in two years and to install the carousel,” Goings said.
As to the gaping space that now exists in the arcade, Amusement Park Manager Debbie Karu said “we have no plans for it yet.”
Karu was also watching the dismantling of the carousel. She noted that the carousel has been part of her work place for two decades during her time at the arcade. “I’ve been here for 22 years and this is bittersweet. I’m excited for its full restoration and all the smiles it will get from the children. I can’t wait for my son to ride it again.”
The carousel was a ride of wonder for children and adults but it wasn’t restricted to just the summer months. Moreland recalled its use for some of the borough’s special occasions such as the borough’s 75th anniversary. The Ocean County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee would hold its “Little Leprechaun Contest” where young people would don shades of green. The contestants would have a ride with then-Parade Chairman John Sweeney, who would wear a gold and emerald costume a green hat and pointed ears as the tallest leprechaun of all.
Moreland and Karu recalled the days when the Casino Pier Arcade would create a Christmas Village during the holidays that would also spotlight the carousel and bring visitors to the boardwalk in December. Santa Claus who would often ride the carousel.
“For anything to be working and enjoyed for 100 years is incredible. We are trying to bring it to its next point of life so the next several generations of children can enjoy it,” Goings said.