After a two-year absence, the first animals made it back to Pullen Park's carousel on Monday.
The landmark park near downtown Raleigh is still very much under construction. The grand opening is set for Nov. 19. But they've made a lot of progress in the few weeks since I last visited the site for a tour. The outdoor amphitheater, which will be home to regular programming, is taking shape. The Andy and Opie statue also returned Monday.
Richard Costello, lakes and amusements director for Raleigh's parks department, tells me that the carousel and its animals have gone through an extensive renovation since the park shut down for construction two years ago.
The historic Dentzel Carousel was built sometime between 1901 and 1911 and has been at the park since the early 1920s. The restoration work includes new scenery panels to replace some that disappeared in the 1940s and 1950s along with upgrades to the 52 animals. The restoration artist will return next month once the animals are in place to put on the finishing touches.
"We just really wanted to put a lot into it," Costello said. "It means so much to so many people."
Of course, the biggest change for the carousel is the new house it's now in. The building will allow the city to operate the carousel all year. It also will protect it from the elements.
"By putting it into a new building that's climate controlled, we can pretty much ensure that our grandchildren and our children's grandchildren will be able to ride this carousel as well."
Hear more about the project and see some scenes of the work so far in the video. Read my earlier post for more about all of the work.