Kennewick's Carousel of Dreams grand opening date not set

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldMay 24, 2014 

Roof Carousel Cupola

Roofers work recently installing the copper colored panels on the cupola of the Carousel of Dreams new building near the Southridge Sports Complex in Kennewick.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

The refinished, antique horses appear ready to leap up and down along the panels on the platter of Kennewick's Carousel of Dreams.

But the building housing the historic 1910 Charles Carmel ride isn't quite ready for visitors.

A grand opening date is still up in the air. But officials expect it to open sometime this summer at the Southridge Sports & Events Complex.

Construction has taken longer than expected as the Three Rivers Carousel Foundation has coordinated the time and materials offered at substantially reduced prices by many Tri-City companies, said Eric Van Winkle, the foundation's chairman.

And the group still has $300,000 to raise.

Earlier this week, primer still was being applied to walls in preparation for painting. And the carousel itself was covered with protective plastic.

Landscaping is on the to-do list, along with bringing back to life the spray park next to the carousel, Van Winkle said.

The source of water for the spray park passed underneath the carousel building and had to be replaced as part of the project, he explained. The water should be back on in a couple of weeks.

A full-size copper carousel horse also needs to be installed on top of the cupola.

The carousel building also will provide concessions for the rest of the park, Van Winkle said. And tables and chairs are expected to be placed outside in the shade of the building during the heat of the afternoon.

Inside, refinished church pews donated by May Hays of West Richland will provide seating. And Jody White of Kennewick used antique wood from the original carousel to make the storage cabinets.

The concession area featuring an antique-looking soda fountain and its kitchen are being donated by Coca-Cola. Van Winkle said it will be decorated in old-style Coca Cola black, white and red. And the menu will be made from one of the carousel's antique rounding boards.

The decorative rounding boards on the top of the restored carousel now feature artwork by Tri-City landscape photographer John Clement.

Van Winkle said the entire project has ended up being more expensive than initially budgeted. The carousel foundation's board wanted to make sure that the carousel had a high-quality home for Tri-Citians and visitors alike.

In all, the project will cost about $3.5 million, including the $830,000 the city of Kennewick spent buying the horses in 2003, Van Winkle said.

After the horses were restored, they sat in storage until 2012, when the city council gave the foundation a last chance to finish the project. Otherwise, the city planned to sell the carousel to recoup its costs.

As of last week, the carousel foundation has $300,000 left to raise after receiving about $1.8 million. That doesn't include the value of the labor and materials that Tri-City companies have offered at reduced prices, Van Winkle said. Overall, about 60 companies have contributed in some way to the project.

Also, Gesa Credit Union donated $1 million for the naming rights. Toyota of Tri-Cities committed $500,000, donating $10,000 a month for 50 months for operational costs.

Baker Produce of Tri-Cities paid for the new mechanism that will make the 45 horses and a cougar and husky bob up and down.

Getting 12 more horses adopted would take care of what's needed to finish the new building, Van Winkle said. So far, 15 of the 45 are spoken for. Adoptions for horses start at $15,000.

Those who adopt horses get to name them, and have their name and the horse's name on a plaque on the carousel near the horse's pole.

Floor tiles that will encircle the actual carousel still are available, but Van Winkle said people need to order them soon if they want them installed when the building opens.

The group expects to be able to offer about six, three-minute rides in an hour.

It will cost $3 for one token, but $10 for four tokens and $20 for 10, Van Winkle said. Group rates also will be available.

For more information or to donate, go to www.carouselofdreams.net or call 509-585-8800.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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