|Most people do not know the colorful history behind the #67 PTC carousel. It was purchased and brought to Evansville, Indiana in 1923 and set in Pleasure Park (formerly Cooks Park). The original owner was Henry Kersting, who managed the carousel at Pleasure Park until 1936 when it was moved to Mesker Park. In 1937, Mr. Kersting sold the carousel to his brother-in-law, George Schmitt, who operated it until his death in 1945. Schmitts wife Katherine operated the ride until it was acquired by two of her daughters, Irene Kelly and Babe Shagaloff in 1950, and then Irenes twin sister Irma Koenig after 1961.
The sisters sold the carousel to Mr. F.C. Shafer of Shafer Enterprises in 1972, and it operated briefly before Shafer announced to the Mesker Park board on August 10, 1973 he had sold the carousel.
“I sold it along with some other rides... I can’t remember who to,” explained Mr. Shafer in a 1980 interview, “Some guy with a Greek name from Chicago.” (actually, it was sold to Family Leisure Centers, Inc., c/o James Figley, Director of Ride Development Kings Dominion).
The sale prompted a flood of calls from irate area residents. City Parks Director LaMoine Torgerson contacted the purchaser investigating the possibility of keeping the carousel in Evansville. “There’s no chance we would sell it back. We looked too hard and too long to find it” Replied an unnamed official of Family Leisure Centers.
Concerned Evansville citizens, determined to keep the Carrousel in the city, formed a “Keep the Merry-Go-Round at Home” committee headed by Mrs. Louis Koch, Jr. “We are pleading with the new owners to have some sympathy with our cause,” she reportedly said. The committee asked area residents to write letters requesting the Merry-Go-Round be sold back to Evansville. Tri-state residents responded with more than 1,200 letters.
In a letter to Jim Figley at Kings Dominion, dated 9/4/73, Shafer wrote, “You’re lucky you got such a good ride without the Hell that I’m catching here. Letters to the paper, TV comments and a million calls to me - harrassing the hell out of me …I put out the story that ride so badly in need of expensive overhaul to let them know if they could buy it back it would cost a million to repair. . .”
The next day the Mesker Park Carrousel was moved out of town (apparently with no rioting after all). After being stored for five years, Family Leisure Centers renovated the machine and placed it in the Happy Land of Hanna-Barbera at Carowinds Theme Park in Charlotte, North Carolina as part of a 1979 expansion program, where it operates today.