Did you know that the Merry-Go-Round was actually used in military training? Soldiers were trained how to load supplies onto a moving horse. True story. However, most of us know the Merry-Go-Round as a fun magical ride at carnivals, fairs, and theme parks around the world. Merry-Go-Rounds are colorful, adorned with sparkled jewels and catchy music. But did you know there is an entire museum dedicated to the history and the art of the Merry-Go-Round?
Sandusky, Ohio is home to so much more than roller coasters (Cedar Point). I had an opportunity to explore the area of the Lake Erie Shores and Islands, and I was invited to visit the Merry-Go-Round Museum.
Located in downtown Sandusky, the building was once the local post office. It’s grand and majestic entrance is perfect for the museum. As soon as you enter the building, you are surrounded by old carousel horses and memorabilia of days gone past. As you walk into the main room, what used to be the back sorting area of the post office, you are greeted by a beautifully adorned and colorful Merry-Go-Round. Admission to the museum includes a ride on the carousel.
A ride on the Merry-Go-Round is nostalgic.
The museum also has a workshop where you can watch wood carvers carve new animals and restore old ones.
There are so many things I learned about the wonderful world of Merry-Go-Rounds. For instance, did you know there is a “Romance” side of a carousel horse? The right side of a horse, or the side that faces the outside, is adorned with jewels and majestic decor, while the left side, the inside of the horse, is more plain. A typical horse can take about 400 hours of labor, so imagine the time that is saved by adorning just one side of a horse.
And by horse, I am being quite generic. There are animals of all types – lions, ostriches, elephants, zebras, etc. – These other animals are called “menegarie”. It is very typical of a carousel to have a theme, depending on where it’s final home will be.
And there are terms that are unique to Merry-Go-rounds. A “lead horse” is the signature horse of a carousel, usually the spot where tickets are collected. A “jumper” is a horse in which all four feet are off the ground, these are the horses that move up and down on a pole.
The “outside row” is typically the most elaborately decorated, and also the most stationary. Usually the animals that have two or more feet on the ground tend to be stationary as well, as is the “chariot”- or the benches on the outside row.
Be sure to walk around and admire the beautiful retired horses, some of which have been turned into postage stamps, some of which have been used as barber chairs.
While the museum is not big, there is enough to see to spend a few hours here. Kids will love the etching stations where you can bring home souvenir drawings of carousel animals.
And you could spend a lot of time admiring the decorated horses on the Merry-Go-Round, right down to the Scooby Doo horses. These horses were modeled after the cartoon dog.
One thing is certain, you will never look at a Merry-Go-Round the same after visiting the museum.
I highly recommend a visit to the Merry-Go-Round museum the next time you take a trip to Sandusky. And don’t miss your chance to ride the carousel and be a kid again.
The Merry-Go-Round Museum website – Sandusky, Ohio
And for more fun in the Lake Erie Shores and Islands Region, check out these other attractions:
*Disclosure: I have been provided with compensation during my stay and exploration of the Lake Erie Shores and Islands by the Lake Erie Shore and Islands Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. However, as always, all opinions are 100% my own.*