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Friday, April 18, 2014
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Published: 3/20/2003

Taking a ride that's fun for all ages

That only children ride on the merry-go-round is not accurate.

I paid $1 to ride the merry-go-round at Southwyck Shopping Center last week and enjoyed it so much I almost bought a token for a second ride.

You can't say Southwyck is totally dead once you have seen the colorful carrousel light up and have heard it play the music that all carrousels play. It's a continuing spark at the controversial mall, which is scheduled for a face lift.

In the meantime, the merry-go-round just keeps on turning, and the horses are most eager for passengers. Duke, Strawberry, Silver, Dancer, Prince, and many others are in bright adornment, with happy expressions. The name of each immaculately maintained animal is easily legible so that if a pony is not selected by the color, it can be by the name.

Admission is by token only which spits out once you have fed a dollar bill into the machine. Even that is fun for the little ones, who feel they have accomplished a magic trick by putting in the dollar and hearing the token fall into the bin they can reach.

On a day that was otherwise a downer, the merry-go-round was a cheerful diversion. I left the mall with a lifted spirit, determined to return soon for another ride and to suggest that people of all ages give it a try.

It's always good to be with children and witness the joy they receive at the little things in life.

A grandfather stood up for the ride holding tight to his granddaughter who was on the pony and hanging tight to the pole and giggling. Another child was so scared she cried while her mother assured her everything was all right. Sure enough after two rounds, her tears turned to laughter and she didn't want to get off. Children who looked to be 4 and 5 years old were proud when they were allowed to get on the big merry-go-round all by themselves, pick their own pony, and climb up on it, like a real cowboy or girl. Children under 42 inches must be accompanied by an adult.

Mall merry-go-round memories include the elderly couple who were holding hands while riding. For them it was a trip down memory lane. They met at Walbridge Park all those years ago when there was a carrousel there. It's not uncommon for newlyweds to have their pictures taken on the carrousel after their wedding, according to Glen Anderson.

Anderson, general manager since the mall was opened in 1972, remembers traveling to Wichita, Kans., 14 years ago to buy the reproduction of old time carrousels. He remembers even better that it was shipped to Toledo in three large trucks.

“We wanted something to entertain the young people who came to the mall with their parents, “ he said.

Michelle Wilson, a Maumee High School junior, seems to enjoy her job taking tokens as much as the children do the ride. She explained that she loves children and thinks it's nice to be around people. She added that face painting and caricature drawings are scheduled at the mall as additional children's activities.

Someday I may try to get astride one of the ponies, despite aging knees and hips, but to forestall embarrassment I settled into a comfortable floor level bench seat with a Miss Liberty design.

I just had a thought. Surely the new mall owners will realize the merry-go-round has to stay.



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