The Forest Park carousel must spin on.
After the city Parks Department said earlier this month that it still is unable to find an operator for the merry-go-round that was built in 1903, residents have intensified their battle to ensure they will see the carousel’s 49 animals sculpted by master wood carver Daniel Carl Muller move once again.
Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, noted that his group sold T-shirts that said “Save the Forest Park Carousel” at the recent street festival in Woodhaven.
“We sold 48 of them in less than three hours, and we have another 45 on preorder,” Wendell said. “We’re trying to generate an awareness about it. If people start wearing these, other people will see it and say, ‘Is there something wrong with the carousel?’”
One of only five merry-go-rounds in the city, the Forest Park ride was operated by New York One until 2008, when the company let its contract lapse. The city has since issued three requests for proposals, with the final one going out in mid-April.
No one submitted proposals for the city’s first two RFPs, though officials said they did receive answers to applications after the most recent one.
A Parks Department spokeswoman said the city does not have a set date for when it will release a fourth RFP.
Maria Thomson, executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, said a group interested in running the carousel contacted her after seeing an article in the Queens Chronicle earlier this month. While she did not name the organization, Thomson said she planned to connect the principals with the city.
“They just came out of the woodwork,” Thomson said of the group from New Jersey.
Wendell and Thomson praised the city Parks Department for installing a wrought iron fence around the carousel —a move paid for in part with funds secured by Councilwoman Liz Crowley (D-Middle Village) that they said would make the carousel more enticing to potential operators.
The city could take other measures that would help even more, Wendell said.
“I wish they would take advantage of the communities around them in this situation,” he said. “If they brought in people from the community when the potential vendors came in, it would’ve been better. Instead of having potential vendors walk around on a dreary day with half the gates closed, they should open up those gates so people could bring their kids in and put the carousel music on. Then there would be all these people running around saying how much they love the carousel. They really need to do a better job of selling that place.”
Wendell also noted that the carousel did recently spin — when the HBO television series “Bored to Death” filmed part of a recently aired episode there.
During the show, the show’s stars Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis hopped from animal to animal as they dodged bullets.
“It’s discouraging that the carousel is open for celebrities but not for the kids of our community,” Wendell said. “It’s a real shame.