Editor’s note: The following letter is addressed to the Friends of the Paragon Carousel.
As many of you know, our beloved 1928 carousel has weathered many storms. Fires threatened in 1932, 1955, and 1963. Numerous hurricanes and blizzards brought water damage. The closing of Paragon Park and the auction that followed in 1985 led to the moving of the 120-ton carousel down Nantasket Avenue in 1986. An impending sale in 1995 and the Great Recession of 2008 also tested its survival.
Then came the pandemic of 2020. There were no birthday parties, no children’s groups, and no special events. As a result, revenue fell 70 percent. The carousel went dark on Labor Day after an abbreviated 10-week season. Once again, the Paragon Carousel was in survival mode.
By late September, only two weeks’ payroll remained in the carousel account. Off-season bills total nearly $90,000. The decision had to be made to either close down completely or attempt to soldier on. Being determined, creative, and resilient would not help the Friends of the Paragon Carousel pay the monthly mortgage and insurance payments, which, by unfortunate chance, had both increased substantially. Despite the slowed economy, we decided to put out the Annual Appeal and attempt to continue the Adopt-A-Horse program into 2021.
To our amazement, the appeal brought in a record amount, as did the adoption program. All the horses have been adopted for 2021. Two outstanding anonymous donations humbled us. A dedicated part-time staff of three, working reduced hours, helped us limp into March. In early April, the nonprofit received the second round of the Payroll Protection Plan. Now we dare to exhale a bit. However, due to pandemic restrictions, the traditional Easter opening was not possible, but we look forward to greeting our friends on Mother’s Day (May 9), having been encouraged by the generosity and support from folks not only from Hull and the surrounding communities, but from across the state and places like California, Texas, Florida, and Maine.
The doors can open once again to celebrate the 93rd birthday of the carousel and the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Friends of the Paragon Carousel. The great support received brings special gifts we cannot see. Children of all ages will once again leave the carousel with hearts full of joy and a sense of wonder. They will bring these gifts into a weary world. Our many carousel heroes know where joy resides. They have given the carousel a voice once again. For, as Robert Louis Stevenson taught us, “… to miss the joy is to miss it all.”
Come for a stroll through the carousel on May 2 from noon to 2 p.m. for a pre-opening visit. See the improvements made possible by Community Preservation Act funding, the voters of Hull, and the heroes of the Paragon Carousel.
With heartfelt thanks and gratitude,
The volunteer Board of Directors
and the Advisory Board
of the Friends of the Paragon Carousel