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Monday, June 18, 2012

A shining moment on Spokane's Looff Carousel


Today I wanted to share with you the story of one of my most glorious childhood memories. It took place on the Looff Carousel at Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington when I was around ten years old.


Spokane is one of just a few cities lucky enough to have a functioning Looff carousel, named after master carver Charles I. D. Looff. I've blogged once before about our Looff Carousel in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Gardens.


The horses on Spokane's carousel are the fanciest I've ever seen.

As a child I loved everything about the carousel. All of the horses on Spokane's carousel are brightly colored jumpers, meaning they look as if they're prancing or bounding. As they strained at their bejeweled bridles and bits with tousled manes, flaring nostrils and mouths agape they literally looked as if they could take off and run through the park. The bright lights and pipe organ music cheerfully pumping from the center of the carousel made it an absolute delight to choose a special horse to ride round and round.


The Parrot Horse

When my mom and I returned to take these pictures last week she was amazed that all of these years later I still remembered the horse I was riding on my special night. As we approached the carousel slowed and I told her: "It was a white horse with a parrot on its back." And just like that it stopped before us. It is one of just two rows, out of 20, whose three horses have roached (cropped) manes.


For an obvious reason its name is "The Parrot Horse." I did read on the carousel's website that at one time it was painted as an eagle but it's been a colorful parrot every since being restored at Riverfront Park.


Spokane's carousel had, and still has, the extra feature of being able to try to catch the "gold" ring, made of brass, during your ride. The rings are fed through the top of a long arm. Now they're colored plastic but when I was a kid they were heavy silver metal rings except for the occasional ring of gold that would slide down the shoot.


Trying to catch the gold ring.

As you passed there had to be a perfect alignment of the gold ring being dropped into the slot, for kids your horse had to be in an up position to be able to reach the ring at all, and you had to have perfect hand eye coordination to slide your finger through the ring as you passed the armature pulling it free as your horse pulled away.

Once you caught a ring you would then toss it at a big clown face on the far side of the building, away from the ring catch, whose mouth was a hole. If you landed your ring through the hole a bell would ring.

On one very special night I caught the "gold" ring not once, not twice, but three times! That was unprecedented! For each one I won a free ride! It was a fantastic accomplishment for any child! To this day, even though it's been decades, I still remember the thrill of seeing the gold ring at the end of the armature and the rush of happiness each time I felt my finger hook through it :)


Since I was using my Photojojo fisheye lens for some of my shots I couldn't resist giving Jojo the dinosaur a photo op with a new friend he met while visiting his first Looff Carousel. LOL



Spokane's Looff Carousel at Riverfront Park - website

Location
507 N. Howard Street - Map
West Spokane Falls Boulevard at Howard ST

Schedule
Monday - Thursday 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday - Sunday 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM
The carousel closes each winter for maintenance so be sure to check the schedule link above if planning your visit off season.

Cost (as of June 2012)
One token $2.00
Eight Tokens $10.00
Twenty Tokens $20.00

Safety
Minimum height requirement is 42 inches unless accompanied by an adult

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