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PPA Profiles: Lucio Schiavone

August 01, 2014

Originally from a small town outside of Naples, Italy, Lucio Schiavone, manager of the Prospect Park Carousel, moved to New York in 1963 after he married his wife, an American he met in his hometown.

“When I first saw my wife, she was up in a tree eating figs,” he recounted with chuckle. Having attended the Academy of Art in Italy, he pursued a career as a painter and sculptor. Lucio was hired by the Prospect Park Alliance in 1988 to assist in the restoration of the 1912 Carousel. He carefully painted each horse with a team of two other craftspeople. After several weeks, the renovation was complete and the carousel was re-opened to the public.

The Alliance soon realized they needed someone to maintain these new improvements, as well as perform the daily operations of the amusement. Lucio was their first choice. In addition to operating the attraction for tens of thousands of children each year, he performs weekly maintenance on this antique machine, climbing a thick black ladder up into the machinery to keep it well oiled. Once a year he gives the horses a fresh coat of paint, and every few weeks he changes the sheet music on the band organ.

Lucio let us in on three secrets of the Prospect Park Carousel. The first is that Morgan, the black stallion, is the leader and the favorite of all the horses. The second is that the scandalous mermaid (another favorite) isn’t part of the original carousel. A local resident donated the ornament during the restoration. The third secret is that he’s stayed at the carousel for nearly 25 years because of the kids. “They are so happy when they come here. It makes me happy when I see them. I just love that. I love to be here, and I love what I do.”

This month, the Alliance is offering free carousel rides on Thursdays for children 12 and under, through the support of Astoria Bank. You can take your family on the carousel for free year round with the Prospect Park Alliance Family Plus membership. And don’t forget to check out the Carousel t-shirt!