I'm inordinately fond of carousels and I have reached the age where I am no longer self conscious about riding on them, as I was in my thirties and forties. I'm so glad I got over that silly restriction, as there is little in this world so much pure fun as the bounding rush of a carousel ride. I don't even need to take a child to make me legit.
In fact, I think carousels are wasted on the smallest children. They often seem afraid of all that height, noise and motion, sometimes clinging to their mothers and actually crying, the little wimps. Once they have ridden, however, and nothing bad has happened to them, they seem to seize the fun and will beg for ride after ride, shouting and waving to their parents with one hand while clinging to the brass pole with the other. Sadly, they now provide seat belts on the plunging horses for children under a certain age; I can only shake my head at that development. Who ever heard of anyone getting hurt on a merry-go-round?
Choosing your horse is important; its soul must match your own. While the previous riders are circling, I closely examine all the horses to find just the right one. Sometimes I'm in the mood for the wildly charging ones; other times, a collected and gentle one will do. Dapple grays, colorful pintos, dashing blacks, golden palominos - so many jewel-like choices! I never sit in the swan boats, as lovely as some of them are, and I don't choose to ride the other animals, if the carousel has lions or giraffes. It must be a steed; only a steed will do.
The best merry-go-rounds have painted ceilings as well as lights, mirrors and painted outsides. The one in Rochester, New York is the best I have ever seen for painted ceilings - it is a marvel. And the best carousels still have a brass ring dispenser, like the one at the Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk. They have to buy tens of thousands of new rings each year, as most people keep them as souvenirs rather than trying to throw them into the clown's mouth to get a free ride. My Beloved caught the brass ring last time we rode that one together.
The music must come from a band organ, one that oompahs as well as tinkles a happy tune. A silent carousel would be like a silent bird, too sad to contemplate. Just hearing that music brings a smile and draws me in to take another ride.
Next time you see one of these whirling delights, pay your very small admission charge and channel your inner child. Mounting a carousel horse will take years off your years and, whether you catch the brass ring or not, you'll be transported to another, simpler time where the lights are glowing, the music is playing, the horses are surging, and life is sweet.