Each animal will take up to 3 weeks to carve, and up to 5 days to paint. That's hard work, that brings big rewards.


MANSFIELD -- Circle of Wildlife Carousel and Nature Discovery Ridge will be unveiled at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo early Friday. The installing of the new, 64-animal carousel will allow visitors to take a ride starting at 10 a.m.

They didn't have to go very far to find the right company to do the job as it and other handmade carousels were made right here.

"Nothing beats a traditional, hand-carved carousel. Kind of a tie-in with the city, with the park, with the zoo, so to speak, so you can get a unique feel each time," said Don Blakley, carving supervisor at The Carousel Works.

With each cut and brush stroke, the foundation of childhood memories are being formed.

The Carousel Works in Mansfield is the largest manufacturer of wooden carousels in the world. For decades they have been building carousels across the country, like the one at the Akron Zoo.

"When we put up the carousel up in downtown Mansfield, it was the first, hand-carved carousel put up since the depression so we really did kind of bring back the lost art, that skill level of craftsmanship" said Marilyn Ritchie, a painter at The Carousel Works.

Each animal will take up to 3 weeks to carve, and up to 5 days to paint. That's hard work, that brings big rewards.

"The fun part is non-generational. You can be 2 or 102 and enjoy a carousel. And the kids really enjoy the animals. The zoos are finding out that they are wonderful attractions to the zoos. It brings people back that haven't been in a while. So, it is good for them and we enjoy doing it," said Ritchie.

Clients can choose from a long list of figures or the carvers can create new ones.

The Cleveland Mertoparks Zoo chose 8 new animals for their new carousel.

"You can only carve so many zebras before you are kind of zebra-ed out. So when you get something like a loris, a lemur, a fossa, it makes it fun for us, to change it up a little bit," said Blakley.

And then there are the more "interesting" requests.

"One of our most unique requests is going on Cleveland's carousel. It is the dung beetle chariot. It's literally a large dung ball which you sit in with a beetle behind pushing it," said Blakley.

These craftsmen are keeping 100-year-old traditions alive.

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