Flying Horses Carousel
The Flying Houses Carousel is the nation’s oldest platform carousel. Since 1884, the Flying Horses Carousel has delighted visitors in the town of Oak Bluffs.
Constructed by Charles Dare of New York Carousel Manufacturing in 1876, it is one of only two Dare carousels that still exist. Originally operated as an attraction on Coney Island, it was moved to Oak Bluffs in 1884 and includes stationary carved wooden horses with manes and tails of real horse hair and inset glass eyes. Each horse is brightly painted and fixed to the rotating platform by a metal post.
In the 1870s, when the Flying Horses Carousel was designed, summer recreation in America was expanding. At its peak, Coney Island, the most famous of the country’s amusement parks, had 25 carousels in operation – including the Flying Horses Carousel.
The carousel was acquired by Vineyard Trust in 1986 to prevent it from being dismantled and sold piecemeal to collectors of antique carved horses. The Trust undertook an extensive restoration of the Flying Horses, returning the carousel to its original appearance, complete with the historic panel paintings that were done by a Dare factory artist.
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It is with great sadness that we have made the determination that it is not feasible for us to reopen the Flying Horses Carousel this year. In order to keep both our staff and the public safe, we had devised COVID-19 sanitation protocols for the horses. However, after doing a paint analysis, we determined that the recommended dosage and frequency of alcohol based cleaning fluid would have eroded the historic paint on the horses.
As a preservation organization, our core mission is to protect and maintain the cultural artifacts in our care. While we recognize the important role the Flying Horses Carousel plays in making and helping to relive treasured island memories, we must take the conservative path this year in order to protect the Carousel for future visitors.
Oak Bluffs, MA