Carousel's top makes scene on trip

October 14, 2013 

As the 25 foot-wide cupola made its way from north Pasco to south Kennewick on Monday, Ken Johanning was following closely behind.

If it wasn't for the Kennewick police escort, the spot in front of the truck pulling the decorative roof, which took up two lanes, would have been a more fitting place.

Johanning, founder of the Three Rivers Carousel Foundation, called the sight "a miracle," as the top of the Carousel of Dreams presented by Gesa Credit Union rolled toward its destination at the Southridge Sports and Events Complex off Highway 395.

"It's been 11 years of hard work, a lot of disappointments and then everything came together and we're finally here," he said.

The project looked to be dead just three years ago before Gesa pledged $1 million, Toyota of Tri-Cities offered $500,000 over 10 years and Baker Produce of Tri-Cities covered the cost of the new mechanical portion for the 102-year-old carousel.

Later this week, a Lampson International crane will hoist the roughly 8,500-pound cupola in place as crews build the structure up to it. The rest of the parts will stay in their respective storage areas until there's a building to house them, which should be complete in about two weeks, said board Chairman Eric Van Winkle.

Melanie White of Kennewick was hoping to see some construction in progress on Monday when she took her three children, ages 3, 6 and 8, who had the day off from school for Columbus Day, to the park for a visit.

White, who lives near the complex with her husband Jim said she's excited to see the carousel so close to completion and that it's a fun complement to the existing sports complex, playground and spray park.

"I know the kids will love it," she said.

The next step is "adopting" the 38 horses that sponsors haven't claimed yet, said Van Winkle, who said another five or so adoptions will cover the foundation's fundraising efforts.

Sponsorships range from $15,000 to $35,000 for the horses, $50,000 for the chariots and $150,000 for the lead horse.

All that's left is construction, which Van Winkle estimates will take about two weeks, and all the design, painting and details for the 4 1/2-story structure that he describes as "museum-caliber."

Included in those details is a 6-foot-tall hand-pounded copper carousel horse that will top the recently delivered cupola.

"Once you come in there, we're gonna knock your socks off," said Van Winkle.

The carousel is expected to be open in January, with no date yet for a grand opening.

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-- Kai-Huei Yau: 585-7205;; Twitter: @kaieeieei

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