Saturday, June 24, 2006

Cover of the Carousel tab published to commemorate the opening of the new merry-go-round at Eldridge Park, Elmira, New York, USA. Story below.Posted by Picasa

Wakeup Call Answered

A lovely restoration project is nearly completed. Some very concerned citizens began an ambitious project to bring a new carousel to Elmira. It's almost done. What's left is going slowly, as each animal is being "adopted" by individuals and/or groups interested in Eldridge Park.

When I went to Elmira College in the early 1970's, the park was already in decline. I remember a shabby amusement park that was shunned by us students. Later, I watched as, piece by piece, the place deteriorated. Buildings were taken down or simply boarded up. Fields were turned to sports, and later, simply lay fallow. Everything was finally razed and the carousel sold away.

The whimper of neglect was a wakeup call to a very few, hardcore, rememberers. And they answered.

They first answered by calling. Calling and searching and beating the bushes for like-minded Elmirans and transplants.

The resident and transplanted Elmirans became the answerers. The answerers also became callers and the subsequent answerers became the groundswell of natives who were unhappy that the developers and city fathers had erased the evidence of those memories.

The callers and answerers located and wooed the preservationists, the artisans and carvers who could make the carousel rise again. And the work began.

The preservation efforts were encouraged and funded by the rememberers, who were joined by more and more rememberers. All have stories about Eldridge Park and the carousel of their childhoods.

And all these people, all along the way, appealed to the local newspaper to broadcast their plea: Everybody help us! We are rebuilding our history! Will this work? Can history be recreated after its been erased?

The answer is a resounding YES!

And the echo is also YES!

Happy endings always make me cry.

Little Pond