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Seaside Heights’ 114-Year-Old Carousel to Open to the Public July 3: Here’s a Preview





A tradition as American as apple pie will return to the Seaside Heights boardwalk in time for the Independence Day holiday.

Nearly a full decade after it spun for the final time at its old home near Casino Pier, the historic Dentzel–Looff carousel, after five years of negotiations, construction, restoration and permitting, will welcome a new generation of visitors to ride its freshly-painted horses as its Wurlitzer band organ booms from behind.

Seaside Heights Carousel Pavilion (Photo: Shorebeat)

Seaside Heights Carousel Pavilion (Photo: Shorebeat)



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The carousel, which would have likely been sold for parts if not for an effort on the part of the borough to acquire it and build its new home, will open to the public July 3. There will also be smaller gatherings to recognize volunteers and dignitaries in the days before.

“I know the community is going to support it,” said Mayor Anthony Vaz, whose administration heard the calls of residents to save the carousel and pursued a land swap deal with its former owner, Casino Pier, to acquire the carousel and a beachfront property on which to build a new home and museum. In exchange, Casino Pier received a swath of beachfront to build new rides so the pier would not have to be extended farther into the Atlantic Ocean.

“This was a lengthy, lengthy project, and we were fortunate in one respect with the money from the state government, but to put the building up, have the horses repainted, fixed, sent to Ohio – Chris took trips on his own time – and fixing leaking doors, it was quite the task,” he said. “But it’s finally here!”

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)

Chris Vaz, who serves as borough administrator as well as the volunteer borough historian, conducted countless hours of research on the carousel’s history, and led the effort to create the new Seaside Heights Historical Society which raised additional funds for the restoration project. The carousel was at one point dismantled, shipped to one of only two historic carousel restoration businesses in the United States in Ohio, and reconstructed at its new home on the boardwalk between Sampson and Carteret avenues. The company, Carousels & Carvings, spent more than a year working on the restoration of the machinery itself as well as the Wurlitzer organ.



A local artist, Marie deSaules, was responsible for repainting many of the animals and figures that adorn the ride, and additional artists created paintings behind the animals of historic postcards showing Seaside Heights’ history. The museum portion of the attraction will partially open along with the ride, with a larger portion opening in the fall. The ride was reassembled last summer and spun again on a test basis, but even then, another year of work was required to complete the building, install a unique wheelchair-accessible entrance to the 114-year-old ride and train operators in how to handle it. More recently, the borough obtained a permit from the state to open the carousel to the public following an inspection.

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, on Wednesday, hired a full-time manager for the facility with experience in the amusement business, including operating a carousel at Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y. Vaz said he expects the ride will remain active year-round, though its schedule will likely be scaled back in the winter.

The Experience

When visitors see the carousel for the first time, they’ll also be able to see some historical aspects of the attraction that were previously hidden.

“When they got it out to Ohio they found what we think is a second manufacturer of the carousel,” Vaz said last summer during a series of “test spins,” 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)

G.A. Dentzel and Charles I.D. Looff, two carousel-makers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, designed several of the animals on the ride.

Before the carousel starts spinning, riders can expect to hear the traditional pre-ride bell rung by hand. The bell glistens with a new shine, but the attached control panel is brand new and modern. In addition to the usual control features found on amusement rides, at the press of a button, the carousel perfectly repositions itself where a ramp connects the ride and the pavilion’s floor. The ramp can fully accommodate riders in wheelchairs, and the figurines in that area were specially sized and placed so companions can ride along.

The wheelchair ramp was custom-designed for the carousel and, like the operator’s station, is metallic and almost indistinguishable from an early 1900s piece of equipment despite bring brand new.

The ceremonies welcoming the carousel back to the boardwalk for all to experience will also recognize 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, which came under the ownership of Casino Pier and, now, the borough itself, is named for Moreland.

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 council also set ticket prices for carousel rides at its meeting Wednesday. A spin will cost $4, and in the case a child is shorter than the minimum height of 42-inches to ride along, the same price will apply for a parent and child to ride together. Likewise, a ride for a person in a wheelchair and a companion will cost $4. Seniors will pay $3, and military personnel as well as members of the Historical Society will pay $2.

Seaside Heights property owners will receive 10 free ride tickets, and Historical Society members will receive five. The general public can purchase a 15 ride pass for $51 and a 25 ride pass for $80.




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