The red and yellow carousel at Harper Motors and Mid-City Motor World is being readied for another go-round.
”Pretty much the entire carousel is being redone,” Harper Motors marketing and advertising coordinator Sean Farrow said. “This is by far the most intensive restoration they've done to it.
”It came down to the point it was weathered and cracked,” he added. “They didn't want to let it get to the point where it became a safety concern and boards started breaking.”
All of the decking, upper boards and the wooden frames for the mirrors around the top will be replaced, everything will be repainted and the gate outside the structure will be redone.
”It will be clean and have a fresh coat of paint, and it should be looking really top notch,” Harper Motors General Manager Trevor Harper said.
Built in 1947, the Allan Herschell Carousel was purchased by community icon and the dealer's longtime owner Harvey Harper in 1991.
”I think my grandfather wanted a carousel, and he liked antiques,” Trevor Harper said, adding Harvey Harper also collected antique cars and horse-drawn carriages and carts.
After being purchased, the carousel was shipped to Oakland by train and driven up to Eureka in a semi-truck.
A year later, it was assembled and ready for the first riders to board.
”As far as I know, we're the only dealership in the country with a carousel sitting on their front lawn,” Farrow said.
One of the oldest Ford dealerships in the United States, the business was established in 1912 by Harvey Harper's father, Harvey Mitchell Harper, after a 40-day journey in a 1912 Ford Model T from Phoenix, Ariz., to Eureka. The business started in downtown Eureka and moved several times before it opened the Highway 101 Auto Center two miles north of Eureka three decades ago.
Today the carousel is used by schools, people driving by who decide to stop just for the heck of it, and even college students. One man celebrated his 100th birthday by taking a spin.
”Generally, the kids are really excited,” Farrow said. “They enjoy the fact that there is no time limit.”
Marsha Willis, a teacher for the Winzler Children Center after-school program, said her students ride the ponies once every summer on the way to a field trip in Arcata.
”The kids love it, and some of them have never ridden on a merry-go-round before,” Willis said.
The carousel is open to the public from 12 to 4 p.m. -- seven days a week -- free of charge.
”I've seen as many as 20, 30 people in one day ride it,” Farrow said. “There's always riders out there.”
Some are happy to see the carousel, others are surprised, but all enjoy it.
”I think if we got rid of the thing, there would be a lot of people upset,” Trevor Harper said.
When one of the 30 aluminum and wooden horses -- each with its own theme and name -- was repaired and repainted, the dealership received a letter from the parents of a young girl saying their daughter was upset when she went to ride the carousel and learned her favorite horse was gone, Trevor Harper added. The pony was later repainted much to the girl's delight.
”It gets a lot of attention, and it's fun to have,” Trevor Harper said.
The carousel is expected to be up and running again in January.
Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.