Heritage Carousel Turns 20-Years-Old This Season

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Heritage Carousel in Des Moines is 20-years-old this summer. It is one of few historical carousels in the state and has become a true destination in Union Park. Not much about the carousel has changed in those 20 years, they added a structure around the carousel two years after it opened. This was so the Des Moines Carousel Foundation didn’t have to take apart the carousel every winter.

Another thing that has stayed the same since the Heritage Carousel opened in 1998 is the price.

“When we opened it cost 50 cents and today it still costs 50 cents for a child to ride,” Des Moines Carousel Foundation Executive Director Jackie Cacciatore said.

The foundation is able to keep costs the same because of fundraising. Every year they put the carousel animals up for adoption and people can name them for a season. They also rent out the carousel for private events like birthday parties, work parties and family reunions.

There are 30 animals carved out of wood and all hand painted. The horses have real horse hair tails. There are paintings on top of the carousel of scenes around the state.

“The style of the carousel invokes a sense of nostalgia and the paintings, the murals, pull the community together so the carousel kind of takes us back to a different time, a more simpler time perhaps,” Cacciatore said.

Des Moines Carousel Foundation says now that the carousel has been open for 20 years so she sees the generation that came as kids now bringing their own kids to the carousel.

“It’s really hard to not smile when you ride the carousel. I love when some of our senior members of the community come and ride and they just giggle the whole time and they just say I feel like a kid again and that’s what we want you to feel when you ride the carousel,” Cacciatore said.

June 9th is the 20th Birthday party for the carousel, it’s a free event from noon to 4. They will have food, balloon animals, a magician and of course free carousel rides.

The carousel opens just for this weekend and then it opens for the season next weekend.

The season hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 A.M. to 7 P.M.