Christmas Merry-Go-RoundUser: webmaster
Date: 11/29/2012 8:57 am
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The Christmas Merry-Go-Round officially opened to the public, Friday December 7th, after the annual City Hall Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony held at Veterans Park. Mayor Leonard Riley welcomed everyone to the ceremony and made some brief remarks; Councilmember Paul Story gave the invocation.
A special solo of ‘Joy to the World’ was then performed by Catherine Teel and Chief Tommy Weldon led the singing of Christmas carols. After the carol singing, Mayor Riley lit the City's Christmas Tree Lights - the Nativity Scene across from City Hall and the Madonna were also lit for the 2012 Christmas season.
After the Lighting Ceremony, Santa Claus arrived via fire truck and led everyone to the Christmas Merry-Go-Round down the Rails-To-Trails walk that was lined with luminars. Some of the walkers continued down the trail to the Horace King Memorial Covered Bridge. With the Tree Lighting Ceremony and the arrival of Santa Claus, Valley's 2012 Christmas Season officially began.
The Christmas Merry-Go-Round had almost 10,000 riders on Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday. There was entertainment for the children with inflatable slides and bouncing castles and a train, along with food and craft vendors along the walking trail. The Christmas Merry-Go-Round will continue until December 24th.
History of the Christmas Merry-Go-Round
The Christmas Merry-Go-Round was given to Valley area children as a Christmas gift from the West Point Pepperell Mill Company in 1956. It was located on the softball field behind the Fairfax Theater in the Fairfax community of what is now Valley, Alabama. The theater has since been torn down.
The original carousel contained 30 horses and four carriages. The horses were in sets of three and were such colors as palomino, white, black, gray, and bay. Each horse was adorned with a pine wreath and a big red bow that hung around its neck. As the years passed by, the horses on the carousel were all painted white with black manes and tails, and the pine wreaths around their necks were discontinued.
Pine garland surrounded the carousel railing, as well as the ramp and archway leading to the entrance chain. The ground was covered in sawdust, and all around were cedar trees decked in brightly colored lights. Christmas music flowed from inside the center of the carousel and filled the air with Christmas cheer.
Tickets to the carousel were free and available from a friendly person inside a big, red candle with a flame on top. One Christmas season often sees over 60,000 carousel riders and each new season welcomes a fresh crop of young riders and many older fans who are still filled with childhood memories as they revisit the wonder and the magic of the Christmas Merry-Go-Round.
After West Point Pepperell became West Point Stevens and later West Point Home Inc., the City of Valley worked with the company to help keep the Christmas Merry-Go-Round a continued tradition. In 2008, West Point Home Inc. ended operations in the Valley; the City, local corporate sponsors, and individuals worked together to ensure that the over 50-years old tradition would not end. Now, in 2012, the Christmas Merry-Go-Round will celebrate 56 years of operations.
The Christmas Merry-Go-Round is located on the old tennis courts in front of the Historic Langdale Mill. According to Wayne Clark of the Valley-Times News, the Christmas Merry-Go-Round had its 2,000,000 rider on December 11, 2004.