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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Community celebrates 100 years of Parker carousel

  • At least two individuals were working during their birthday celebrations Saturday in Leavenworth.
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  • At least two individuals were working during their birthday celebrations Saturday in Leavenworth.
    One was Harry Mohan, who turned 90 years old Saturday but worked the gates as a volunteer for the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum. The other was the 1913 Parker Carry-Us-All No. 118 that is the central piece ― and an interactive one ― of the museum's collection.
    Plenty of others joined in Saturday's celebration of the estimated 100th anniversary of No. 118's manufacture, along with Mohan's birthday, the April 30 birthday of carnival magnate and one-time Leavenworth resident Charles Wallace Parker and the eighth birthday of the Parker Museum.
    Unveiling one of two new carvings ― a carousel horse that will serve as a backup on the No. 118 should any of the other animals need repairs ― Museum Director Jerry Reinhardt pointed to the specially-carved logos for the cities of Leavenworth and Lansing, Fort Leavenworth and the museum. It's no mistake that those logos ended up together on the new horse.
    “What we hopefully are is a combining force for this community,” he said.
    The celebration Saturday included many aspects likely found in the carnivals of Parker's heyday ― clowns, food, games and a “freak show.” At the center of it was the carousel itself, constructed here a century ago at Parker's factory on Fourth Street and shipped to Iowa's Fred Shew, a farmer moonlighting as a carnival promoter, or perhaps the other way around. A line quickly formed at 11 a.m. for free rides on the No. 118, which is said to be unique in Parker's inventory for the inclusion of two jackrabbits.
    It took eight years and countless hours of volunteer labor to restore the No. 118 to its current condition.
    Proclamations from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Leavenworth County Commission Chairman Bob Holland and Leavenworth City Commissioner Davis Moulden marked the occasion and recognized both Parker and the carousel's significance to Kansas history. Having been scooped by the two previous speakers on his proclamation, Moulden went off-script to praise the work of the 60 or more volunteers that help with the museum.
    “This thing here is nothing short of a miracle,” he said. “I've said we ought to let the carousel people run the city. Because they get things done.”
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