Prospect Park Carousel is a Treasure of New York

September 18, 2018

Prospect Park’s historic Carousel was recently a feature of THIRTEEN’s Treasures of New York, highlighted as an “Historic Gem in Brooklyn.” The segment tells the history of carousels in Prospect Park, including the current carousel, which was built in 1912 by one of the foremost carousel designers of the day, Charles Carmel. It came to the park in 1952, but fell into disrepair in the 1970s. In 1990, the newly formed Prospect Park Alliance—the non-profit that sustains, restores and advances the park—undertook the restoration of the Carousel in an effort to return this landmark to its original glory. The project was a great success, and today the Carousel and its 53 hand-carved horses (plus assorted dragons, giraffe and deer) is just one of the many attractions that draws millions of visitors to the park each year.

Watch the video feature: 

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Today, the Carousel is one of Prospect Park’s most popular venue for children’s birthday parties! Learn more about having your next party at this beloved landmark. 

c. Paul Martinka

A Fond Farewell to Lucio Schiavone

October 19, 2016

“Tanti auguri” is what to say when next you see Lucio Schiavone. The Naples native and beloved Prospect Park Alliance Carousel manager will step down from his post of twenty-six years this coming December. 

Schiavone came to New York in 1963 after marrying his wife, an American. Having attended the Academy of Art in Italy, he pursued a career as a painter and sculptor, and in 1988 was hired by the Prospect Park Alliance to assist in the restoration of the Carousel. The Carousel’s 53 horses, as well as a lion, a giraffe, a deer and two dragon-pulled chariots, were carved in 1912 by Charles Carmel, one of the foremost carousel designers of his era. Shuttered in 1983, the Carousel was in a rough state by the time Lucio was hired. 

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Lucio recounting his first time seeing the ailing Carousel. “One horse didn’t have a head… the giraffe’s back legs were gone.” 

The Carousel restoration, the Alliance’s first capital project in the Park, took 18 months, during which a team including Schiavone reassembled the fifty-one horses and other assorted animals, and fixed the air-pumped Wurlitzer band organ. When the project was completed, Lucio was asked to stay on to run the daily operations of the Carousel, a task that he has relished for decades. “From then up to now, I’ve loved everything I’ve done here, all the kids smiling when they go around. I love the kids, and that’s why I’m still here.”

Because of Lucio’s efforts and meticulous attention to detail, the Prospect Park Carousel continues to be a magical, wonderful amusement for children and adults alike. Lucio’s positive and playful demeanor has brought immeasurable joy to the lives of Prospect Park’s millions of visitors over his career.

Help us kick off Lucio’s retirement on November 5 at 11:45 am at the Carousel! The Prospect Park Alliance will be commemorating Lucio’s significant contributions by naming a favorite horse “Lucio” in his honor, and offering free carousel rides from 12-1 pm. Stop by and to tell Lucio “ci vediamo,” until we meet again. 

RSVP and learn more about Lucio’s November 5 celebration.

Prospect Park Alliance Featured on NYC TV

October 23, 2015

Join TV host Dave Evans on a tour of things to do in Prospect Park! $9.99 with Dave Evans, an NYC Life program that highlights the best free or low-cost activities in the city, devoted a recent episode to Prospect Park. This episode highlights Prospect Park Alliance activities at Lefferts Historic House, the Audubon Center, the Carousel, Lakeside, and the Tennis Center, and also features an interview with Alliance President Sue Donoghue. Although it aired last week, the episode can be watched online at the NYC Media website.

Visit our calendar to learn about upcoming programs in Prospect Park.

 

Elizabeth Keegin Colley

8 Things to Enjoy this Spring

March 16, 2015

From family hikes with expert naturalists to performances by chart-topping entertainers, Prospect Park has you covered this spring. We’ve compiled our top eight concerts, programs and events not to miss this season. What are you looking forward to this spring? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #ProspectParkSpring

1. Spring Break

You don’t have to go to the beach to have fun during this annual school break. Join the Alliance at some of your favorite Park destinations, which will have special programming throughout the week. Take a first spin of the season on the Park’s 1912 Carousel, enjoy nature programs at the Audubon Center, plant spring sprouts at the Lefferts Historic House and enjoy the start of the rollerskating season at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

2. Opening Day

Join us April 11 for the Alliance’s annual Opening Day celebration with the Prospect Park Baseball Association. Thousands of players march up Seventh Avenue accompanied by a marching band and other special guests to the Bandshell for the ceremonial first pitch of the season. Play ball!

3. Pop-up Audubon

On April 16, the Prospect Park Alliance introduces twice the Pop-Up Audubon fun with a second tent that explores the aquatic habitats of Prospect Park as well as Discovery Packs, ready-to-go kits filled with fun nature activities for families to explore the Park. April’s theme, Animal Clues, will investigate the birds and wildlife that make their home in the Park near water.

4. Party for the Park

Help support the Park you love on May 14 at the second annual Party for the Park, an unforgettable night of dancing, cocktails and small bites from some of Brooklyn’s favorite chefs and mixologists.

5. Celebrate Brooklyn!

Now in its 37th season, Celebrate Brooklyn! will rock the Bandshell starting June 3 with a free performance by the Queen of Funk, Chaka Khan. Other favorites in this year’s line up are Willie Nelson, Interpol and more. Check our website soon for the full calendar.

6. Lola Star’s Dreamland Disco 

Lola Star’s Dreamland Disco will return to the LeFrak Center at Lakeside for another season of weekly themed rollerskating dance parties featuring your favorite hits from the 1970s and ‘80s. 

7. New York Philharmonic

There are few experiences more peaceful than listening to the sounds of the New York Philharmonic as you’re stretched out on a blanket in the Long Meadow. Help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Concerts in the Park at this annual event, taking place this year on June 19. Members at the Arborist level and above will receive special access. Become a member today. 

8. Pop Up Dinner Brooklyn

Keep an eye out for the announcement of the second annual Pop-Up Dinner Brooklyn, an evening where thousands of Park lovers, dressed in white, picnic under the stars at secret location in Prospect Park.  See photos from last years’s event. Members will receive early access to presale tickets. Become a member today. 

 

PPA Profiles: Lucio Schiavone

August 1, 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!

From the Archives: 1912 Carousel

April 1, 2014

The Prospect Park Carousel is perhaps one of the most cherished destinations in Brooklyn. However, this is not the first Carousel in Prospect Park. Since 1874, Brooklynites have flocked to the Park to enjoy this warm-weather amusement. The original Carousel was horse drawn and located in the Vale of Cashmere at the northeast corner of the Park, which was designed as a play area for children. It was subsequently moved to the Long Meadow after a fire in 1885, in the area that is now home to the Picnic House.

Upon the creation of the Children’s Corner in 1952, the current Carousel was brought to the Park from Coney Island. A gem of craftsmanship, it features 53 hand-carved horses, a lion, a giraffe, a deer and two-dragon-pulled chariots created by the renowned carver Charles Carmel in 1912. Carmel was trained near the Prospect Park horse stables, which enabled him to create masterfully lifelike creatures. The Carousel is one of only 12 of his works still in existence. In 1983, mechanical problems and deterioration forced the Carousel to close.

Four years later, the Prospect Park Alliance raised $800,000 to restore this Brooklyn treasure as its first capital restoration project. The mechanical components were repaired, twenty layers of paint were removed, and conservator Will Morton VIII skillfully recreated the historic design. Morton also added 60 renderings of Brooklyn and Prospect Park referenced from historic photos. The newly restored Carousel was opened to the public in October 1990. It is maintained to this day by the Prospect Park Alliance.