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Merry-Go-Round seeks Mountain Park items for auction

Date: 8/17/2010

Aug. 18, 2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

HOLYOKE -- What are your Mountain Park memories?

The Holyoke Merry-Go-Round is hosting a special evening on Sept. 17 that will act not only as fundraiser for the carousel, but also as a trip back in time when people from throughout the region came to play and relax at the foot of Mount Tom.

Maureen Costello, the administrative manager of the merry-go-round, explained to Reminder Publications that, while the attraction at Holyoke Heritage State Park is "in no danger of closing," it has suffered from the economic conditions of the past several years and additional operating fund are needed.

"We've had a consistent pattern of ridership, but it hasn't been sufficient," she said.

The merry-go-round has a preservation fund, which is used exclusively to restore the wooden horses, maintain the building and repair the machinery and band organ of the historic ride. Those funds, though, cannot be used for general operations.

The merry-go-round, which Costello described as a "true American treasure," is one of 150 vintage carousels left in the nation. She said that at their height of popularity, there were 5,000 such rides. The Holyoke Merry-Go-Round is 81 years old.

Costello said in her 17 years working at the attraction, "not a day goes by that someone doesn't come in the merry-go-round and talk about their Mountain Park memories."

The event, "Mountain Park Memories" will be presented Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin. Costello has asked people with memorabilia from the park to consider loaning their items to the merry-go-round staff for the evening to be part of an exhibit that will be on display.

Jay Ducharme, the historian who wrote the book "Images of America: Mountain Park" is coordinating the effort to assemble various posters, photos and artifacts from the park, Costello said.

Some collectors, such as Ducharme himself, have donated items for both a silent and live auction that will be conducted that night, she added.

She is hoping that other people would consider donating items -- Mountain Park-related and others -- for the auctions. Among the donations so far are vacation stays in Ireland, Aruba and Nantucket, 2010 Patriot's tickets and a signed glass sculpture by renowned artist Josh Simpson.

The event will also feature a performance by Joey Canata and the Memories and several food stations.

The cost per ticket is $45 and with a purchase of 10 tickets for a reserved table, two are free. Ticket reservations must be made by Sept. 3. For more information, call 538-9838.

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