The air was full of excitement as the crowd gathered around the storefront, on Water Street in Dumbo, on a beautiful day in September. We waited in the crowd as the line began to wrap around the corner, each of us there to help roll out the 48 beautifully restored antique carousel horses and guide them to their new glass palace, designed by Jean Nouvel, at Empire Fulton Ferry Park.
Originally created in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, Jane Walentas brought and began to restore these original pieces, including two chariots, in 1984. People from all over the neighborhood came -- some families, others working in the area and taking the morning off to be a part of the action. Every person was filled with some measure of wonder as the dream-like procession proceeded down Front Street and into the park. The love and joy surrounding this project was palpable on the faces of Mrs. Walentas and her supporters as the first horse was placed on the carousel with the rest waiting patiently to be returned home. This simple and unique volunteer experience is just one example of how a community can come together, a family can spend a morning, and volunteers, like ourselves, can have fun taking a few hours to do some good.
Volunteering does not always mean serious committed venture. It can be silly, imaginative, and enchanting. A volunteer day can be whatever you want it to be; there are a myriad of options to be explored. In a few hours we all helped complete a 28-year project that you and many more will enjoy for years to come.
Jane’s Carousel is now open 6 days a week (closed Tuesdays) for you to enjoy as a part of the park’s offerings.