The Paragon Carousel opened for the season on Easter weekend, drawing even larger crowds than expected despite the chilly weather.
“It was wonderful to see a return to this tradition after losing so many weekends over the past two years due to the pandemic,” Friends of the Paragon Carousel Board of Directors President Marie Schleiff told the Hull Times.
The Park opened in 1905 and closed in 1985 to the disappointment of the many fans who spent happy days and evenings at this popular venue.
Easter Sunday featured photos with the Easter Bunny, a traditional egg hunt — with 5,000 eggs hidden on the lawn – and happy children and adults riding on the “flying horses.”
Business was steady the entire time – “about the equivalent of a hot summer’s day,” Schleiff said. “It was nice to see so many people turn out.” There were about 300 visitors during the weekend, including many families with children eager to hunt for eggs and to ride the Carousel.
“It was one of the busiest weekends I can remember,” Schleiff said. “All of the eggs were collected throughout the day, and lots of cute photos were taken of children with the Easter Bunny.”
Board members rolled up their sleeves and “ran the show” for the entire weekend.
That’s because while many high school and college students — many who are from Hull — will work at the Carousel this summer, there’s an immediate need for volunteers for upcoming activities that span the entire season.
Volunteers are needed, Schleiff said, to help keep the doors open. “We run on a shoestring, so our volunteers are everything to us.”
Special events to look forward to include: Mother’s Day, May 8; Hull Pride Celebration, June 5; Flag Day/Father’s Day, June 19; Independence Day, July 4; Nostalgia Vintage Weekend, July 23 and 24; PTC Carousel Derby Night, Aug. 20; Endless Summer, Sept. 10; Halloween Weekend, Oct. 29 and 30; and Santa Pictures at the Carousel, Dec. 3and 4.
Volunteer opportunities for ages 16-plus vary from working at the Carousel assisting staff members and helping out at special events for a few hours to participating with fundraising efforts and working at the Paragon Museum – where visitors can relive the nostalgia of their prior visits to Paragon Park – as a docent.
“We’re looking for museum volunteers who like to chat with people and talk about the former Park,” Schleiff said. “It’s a nice place to reminisce.”
Volunteers serving as gatekeepers welcome the kids inside the Carousel gate, collect tickets, and wave to them as they go around and around, riding on colorful horses or in a chariot. “I call them the Wavers!” Schleiff said.
There are also numerous ways for volunteers with specific skill sets to help out, including assisting with the educational outreach and corporate giving programs, fundraising projects, communications, and social media and the Paragon Carousel website.
When asked what makes the Paragon Carousel special, Schleiff shared that it’s “a place of joy in today’s complicated and sometimes dreary world, and every child – as well as adults – deserve to have some joy in their lives. It’s a place for people to come and smile [and have fun] – it’s what we need now more than ever.”
Last Sunday, when Schleiff was at the Carousel, she found herself happily waving at the young riders and enjoying watching big smiles come across their faces.
The Creamery – offering beach food, including ice cream, panini, pizza, grilled cheese, and hotdogs – and the Museum will open on Memorial Day weekend.
Anyone who has mementos of Paragon Park they wish to share, whether an old postcard, photograph, artifact, or souvenirs, may drop them off at the Paragon Carousel. Pickup can also be arranged by reaching out to a member of the Carousel staff. All donated items are displayed with the donor’s name alongside the item(s).
For more information about the Carousel, hours of operation, and volunteer opportunities, or to make a donation of any size, visit www.paragoncarousel.com.