Carousel, now in N.Y., conjures up Valley memories

A group that was like a ‘bunch of little kids’ went to New York to visit the historic merry-go-round.

11 “I looked back and thought it’s beautiful, it’s just beautiful,” she said of the restored carousel that now makes its home in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Yanchick, of New Middletown, planned a trip to New York City at the end of October including a stop at the Idora merry-go-round located in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).

After seeing a segment about the carousel on a local TV newscast, Yanchick began planning and five months later, a group of about 100 Idora Park enthusiasts were on their way to reliving a childhood delight.

“We consider it a national treasure,” said Yanchick of the ride that hasn’t seen the Mahoning Valley for more than 20 years.

After the park fire in 1984, the carousel was bought by Jane Walentas, an artist from New York.

Walentas devoted 22 years to restoring the 1922 Philadelphia Toboggan Company model — and those who went on the trip said her devotion shined through the carousel’s vibrance.

When Gene Juillerat was a boy his parents only allowed him to ride on the stabilized horses of the carousel, but he always wanted to ride on the ones that went up and down.

Eventually he got his wish and chose his trusty steed carefully.

“I had my favorite horse,” said Juillerat, 76, of East Palestine.

“It was just a brown horse with red and green coloring.”

As soon as Juillerat heard about the trip, he planned garage sales and set up a stand at Rogers Flea Market to earn enough money to ride his horse again.

Traveling about 400 miles listening to carousel music, Juillerat had plenty of time to recall what it was like to ride the merry-go-round at Idora Park.

“It’s was very emotional for me because that was my horse,” he said of getting off the bus in New York and reuniting with an old friend.

“I hate to admit it but I broke down and just kept saying, ‘My horse, my horse.’”

The horse Juillerat remembered running to at Idora Park never looked so good, he said.

The trip stirred up emotions for those on the trip, but also for Walentas.

“I got into all their stories and I was crying with them,” she said.

“I was happy that they liked it. It would have been terrible if they said, ‘What did you do to our carousel?’” Walentas said.

When the eager riders got off the bus, they adorned Walentas with three lanyards that had pictures of the carousel and Youngstown and a message that read, “1st Historic Idora Carousel Tour N.Y.C. Oct. 23rd-24th 2008.”

“I think it was just as emotional for Jane,” said June Zordich, 67, of Austintown.

During the city prom at the Idora Ballroom in 1958, Zordich rode a horse on the carousel side saddle.

Girls would ride the rides in their prom dresses, said Zordich, who recalled riding the merry-go-round and Wildcat without a snag.

The trip was extremely “touching” and being part of the carousel again was worth the trip.

“It went to the right person” said Zordich.

“It’s in good hands, in a good home and our memories will go on and others will make memories of their own.”

Walentas would love for more people to experience the carousel and create strong memories like the people of the Mahoning Valley, but plans for moving the ride to Brooklyn Park are slow moving.

The building the carousel is located in doesn’t allow for passers-by to enjoy the canter of the horses, so the move is necessary.

“All I can say is that I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Walentas of the goal to have the carousel up and running for the public.

And when the carousel moves to the park and can be admired by all, Yanchick will be planning another trip.

People are still calling to say how great a time they had and ask when the next trip will be, said Yanchick.

“People brought the heart,” she said of those who traveled to experience the piece of history.

“I’ll never forget this trip because of the happiness, the sheer poignancy, the nostalgia.”

To help Walentas move Jane’s Carousel to Brooklyn Park visit and become a member of Friends of Jane’s Carousel.

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