National Carousel day

Guest blog by Ian Thirkettle

25th of July is National Merry Go Round day, or National Carousel day depending on your proclivities.  This is an American celebration but there is no reason why the rest of the world cannot ride that wave, so to speak.

On a merry go round - photo by Juliamaud
On a merry go round – photo by Juliamaud

National Merry Go Round day was started in 2014 by Bette Largent who is President of the National Carousel Association, and Carousel historian, Ronald Hopkins.  July 25th was chosen to commemorate the first patent for the modern carousel issued to William Schneider of Davenport, Iowa in 1871.

What’s the difference between a Carousel and a Merry Go Round? After doing a bit of digging I think the answer is there isn’t one. There are various suggestions but they all seem a bit tenuous.  Suggestions like; Carousels only have horses,  I’m sure I’ve seen other animals.  Carousels only have white lights, maybe, looking through photos they do seem to have white lamps.

One thing I had never realised before, the difference in the Direction they spin. In the UK they run clockwise. In the US they run counter-clockwise. This is looking down on the Merry Go Round.  One reason cited for this is that in the US this puts their right hand, or gun hand, on the outside. Well you cant be too careful when having fun.

On a recent trip to Coventry we came across ‘However Incongruous’, 2011, by Raqs Media Collective. This is a rendition of Albrecht Durer’s Rhinoceros transformed into a carousel carriage.  The original is a 16th century woodcut.  Durer had never seen a Rhinoceros so did the woodcut from descriptions. This goes a long was to explain the horn on its back but still a good effort.

I found a lot of these details on  A treasure chest of these little celebrations.  It is America facing but there is an international section.  Why not do like I did and look up your birthday.  Who knows you could decide to celebrate National Bicarbonate of Soda Day or World Sexual Health Day to name but two.

Bette Largent is still President of the National Carousel Association according to her LinkedIn entry. She is also on Facebook.  Why not wish her happy National Merry Go Round day?

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