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Seaside Heights & Seaside Park

Seaside Heights’ 114-Year-Old Carousel Should Be Spinning Again This Summer




As Seaside Heights officials prepare for the upcoming summer season, one of the stars of the boardwalk is poised to reclaim her old glory.

Though the borough’s historic Dentzel–Looff carousel spun for the first time late last summer after most portions of it returned to town after a massive piece-by-piece restoration project, but its official grand opening – complete with ceremonies and fanfare worthy of a 114-year-old piece of history coming back alive – has yet to occur. Borough officials said they needed to obtain permits from the state to operate the carousel as a working amusement ride, hire and train operators, complete a new wheelchair-accessible carriage that has been added, and find a mechanism to sell tickets.

After an off-season’s worth of work, most of the boxes have been checked, said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz, who has spearheaded much of the project in his own time along with the borough’s Historical Society, and also serves as the borough historian. Vaz was the first person certified to operate the carousel, albeit without any riders pending the state’s inspection.



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“There are a lot of things that have been going on behind the scenes, but we’re definitely going to be ready this summer,” said Vaz.

Seaside Heights' historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights’ historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights' historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights’ historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights' historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights’ historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

The carousel is housed in the aptly-named Carousel Pavilion on the boardwalk at Carteret Avenue, a former parking lot owned by Casino Pier that was swapped with the borough in exchange for more room for the company’s rides down the boardwalk. Casino Pier owned the carousel, but had proposed either auctioning it off to a third party or selling it for parts before a popular movement prompted the borough to step in and negotiate a deal to save the carousel and its original Wurlitzer band organ and keep it operating for generations to come.

“The railing was installed two weeks ago – it’s a white railing that goes all the way around and looks really nice – and Todd Goings from Carousels and Carvings came up and installed the wheelchair chariot with some help from our Public Works guys,” said Vaz.

Carousels and Carvings is a one-of-a-kind business in Ohio, owned by Goings, which took the carousel apart for mechanical restoration after many of its parts were shipped to the midwest. The company also performed some additional restoration work on the animal figures and designed the wheelchair-accessible entrance.



“They worked for about a day on getting the magnetic entrance and exit gates working,” Vaz said, and the borough was also able to purchase an automatic vending kiosk that will sell tickets for rides, blending modern with historic.

“Since those things were done, there have been some changes to the manual that they’re going to send me, and I’ve been working on the checklist for the state inspection,” said Vaz. “But really, we’re ready to rock and roll.”

A date has not yet been selected due to the uncertainty of when the borough will receive its permit and complete the finishing touches, but the carousel’s reopening will almost certainly be one of the highlights of the 2024 summer season in the borough. Officials are envisioning a multi-day celebration, starting with a ceremony honoring Dr. Floyd L. Moreland, an Ortley Beach resident who worked on the carousel as a teenager and first saved and restored it with friends in the 1980s while working as a professor in New York City. The carousel is now named for Moreland.

Seaside Heights Carousel Pavilion (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights Carousel Pavilion (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights' historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights’ historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights' historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights’ historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

The wheelchair access point to the restored Seaside Heights carousel, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

The wheelchair access point to the restored Seaside Heights carousel, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

The borough will also likely demonstrate the carousel one more time for the Historical Society and other civic groups, and is getting together ideas that will help celebrate the milestone event.

“We’ve been thinking about having a night for the kids from the school to come and take a ride, so that’s something we’ve been organizing as well,” said Vaz.

Something Old, Something New

Many of the carousel’s restored attributes were demonstrated privately during a series of “test spins” late last summer, with Shorebeat in attendance. It was revealed that during the restoration process, a few previously-unknown secrets about the unique amusement ride were uncovered.

“When they got it out to Ohio they found what we think is a second manufacturer of the carousel,” Vaz said, explaining at the time that the ride had previously been located on an island in the Delaware River, and suffered damage in a fire. It was in 1932 that the carousel arrived in Seaside Heights, but it had never been completely understood where post-fire repairs took place and who performed the work.

A manufacturing plate – which has now been placed on the exterior of the carousel for all to see – came from the William F. Mangels Carousel Company, based in Coney Island, N.Y. It is now believed that Mangels was behind some of the animal fixtures in the ride that were replaced after the fire, essentially making it one of, if not the only, Dentzel-Looff-Mangels carousels in the world.

Seaside Heights' historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights’ historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights' historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights’ historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights' historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights’ historic Dentzel-Looff carousel, re-assembled in the Carousel Pavilion, Aug. 2023. (Photo: Shorebeat)

“That was something nobody was aware of,” said Vaz, who has conducted tireless research on the carousel’s background in his role as the borough historian.

A new addition to the carousel can also be seen in the background imagery set behind the animal figures. This area of the ride was restored by hand-painted versions of classic Seaside Heights post cards from the early part of the 20th century.

“If I had to boil this process down to one thing: there was a lot of discovery,” he said.




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