HULL (CBS) – A group of people in Hull are maintaining a very special part of Paragon Park for generations to come.
At 98 feet high with an 88-foot drop, the park’s giant wooden roller coaster used to be the world’s tallest before the park closed in 1984.
“It was the noise. That wooden coaster, the noise it made, and it would shake, and it was like whoa,” said Marie Schleiff, president of the Friends of the Paragon Carousel.
Schleiff keeps memories of Nantasket’s grand beach resort era alive by running the Paragon Park Museum, located in the original clock tower.
“The emotional connections people have to the beach, to Paragon Park, to the carousel. I remember riding that carousel and I’m 73 years old and I remember it so clearly,” Schleiff told WBZ-TV.
“It’s a beautiful piece of art, it’s spectacular,” said restoration artist James Hardison.
Hardison has spent the last 27 years restoring the carousel and its horses. Carved 93 years ago by German, Jewish and Italian immigrants, Hardison begins by stripping between 20-to-30 layers of paint.
“It’s sorta like an archaeology dig, going through all the colors they used to be,” Hardison explained.
Hardison says each horse takes roughly three months to complete, Roman Chariots can take up to a full year. So far, he has restored 50 of the carousel’s 66 horses, even carving entirely new body parts in some cases.
Hardison’s restoration studio is on the first floor of the clock tower and many people stop and watch his progress right from the sidewalk.
“It’s the pride of the South Shore. There are only 150 carousels left, so I’ve had the opportunity to become part of carousel history. There’s only five carousels left in the world that have these Roman Chariots,” Hardison told WBZ.
“There has to be a place for the good, the simple, and the beautiful, and that’s why we volunteer our time and do this,” said Schleiff.
Schleiff also told WBZ no child is ever denied a ride at the Paragon Park Carousel.
You can find information about “adopting” one of the carousel horses here.