Wachapreague kicks off 60th annual firemen's carnival
A couple rides the Scrambler during opening night of the 60th annual Wachapreague Firemen's Carnival on Wednesday.
JAY DIEM/THE DAILY TIMES
Written by Carol Vaughn; Staff Writer
Jun. 22, 2012
WACHAPREAGUE -- The man in charge of rides at Wachapreague Volunteer Fire Company's annual carnival has belonged to the fire company for 43 years.
The carnival is a family tradition for Wachapreague VFC President and Chief Engineer Kerry Paul, who for decades has organized the cadre of volunteers needed to prepare and staff the carnival rides.
The carnival marks its 60th year in 2012, and Paul has been a part of it for much of that time.
"It's in my blood -- my father was one of the people that started the carnival," Paul said.
James Paul, who died in 1989, was Wachapreague's fire chief for many years and Paul's son also is in the fire company and works at the carnival.
Paul spoke this week about the history of two classic rides at the carnival.
Today's youngsters, as they whirl around shrieking with delight, probably don't think about the origin of the rides, which their parents likely also rode as children.
The carousel is the oldest, dating to 1921. It was built by the Herschell-Spillman Co. of North Tonawanda, N.Y., one of the leading manufacturers of carousels in America.
"I've been to the place where it was built," said Paul, adding, "They still have people come in and carve wooden horses."
The Herschell Carousel Factory Museum is located in the original Allan Herschell Co. factory complex in North Tonawanda.
Wachapreague's fire company bought the carousel in the 1970s "from a broker over on the western shore," Paul said.
By then its original wooden horses were gone, replaced by aluminum horses dating to the 1960s.
Another antique ride at Wachapreague is the pony carts, built in the 1940s or early 1950s by W.F. Mangels Co. of Coney Island, N.Y., another major player in the development of amusement parks in the United States.
Wachapreague purchased the ride, with its aluminum carts and horses, in the mid-1980s from Buckroe Beach, a once-popular Hampton amusement park that was razed in 1987.
Several other rides owned by the Wachapreague fire company -- including the airplanes and Rotowhip, both currently in storage -- also came from Buckroe Beach.
The Wachapreague carnival opened on Wednesday and continues for four weeks, through July 14. It is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 7:30-10:30 p.m. nightly.