Highly Anticipated Jane’s Carousel with Acrylic Pavilion from Reynolds Polymer Technology Opens to Public

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The fully restored 1922 carousel was donated to Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City. The carousel sits inside an R-Cast acrylic room manufactured by Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc. which allows it operate throughout the year, regardless of weather.

Carousel in front of Manhattan Bridge

Jane's Carousel sits between the Manhattan Bridge, as shown here, and the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn Bridge Park. (photo by Julienne Schaer)

It’s an overwhelming success. We did an excess of 5,000 rides in each of the past two weekends.

Officials for the city of New York and the Brooklyn Bridge Park recently celebrated the addition of an historic carousel on the riverfront for visitors to enjoy year round. The carousel spent more than 25 years being meticulously restored before being donated to the park, situated between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, on September 15. The donation to the park included not just the carousel, but also a large acrylic pavilion from Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc. (RPT) to preserve the carousel and keep out foul weather.

The grand opening was attended by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, numerous public officials, the architect Jean Nouvel, and hundreds of others for the ribbon cutting ceremony. The R-Cast acrylic pavilion wasted no time in proving its usefulness – rain fell throughout the day onto the crowd gathered outside, but riders on the carousel stayed dry.

“It’s an overwhelming success,” said artist and carousel owner Jane Walentas in regards to the opening ceremony in the park. “The press has been amazing. We did an excess of 5,000 rides in each of the past two weekends [Sept. 19-20 and Sept. 26-27].”

Artist Jane Walentas and her husband David purchased the 1922 carousel – known as PTC #61 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company – in 1984 from Idora Park amusement park in Youngstown, Ohio that had just been shuttered after a devastating fire. While firefighters were able to save the carousel, decades of poor painting, disrepair, and scorch marks from the fire faced Walentas throughout the refurbishment. While her intention all along was to donate it to Empire Fulton Ferry State Park (now Brooklyn Bridge Park), numerous obstacles at nearly every step of the way bogged down the restoration process.

Walentas spent the next 25 years researching the carousel’s history, developing paint formulations specific to the era it was built, repairing various parts of the horses, and poring over every minute detail of the carousel to slowly restore it to its original condition and breathe new life into it.

After spending copious amounts of time, energy, and funding to restore the carousel, installing it outside exposed to the elements was out of the question. Clearly, it needed protection from the weather once installed in its new home in the park, but the desired enclosure couldn’t mask the beauty of the carousel.

“The Architect, Jean Nouvel, a Pritzker Prize winner, was adamant about using acrylic,” explained Walentas. “We would have been ok with a glass structure, but Jean was insistent that we use acrylic. He wanted vast expanses without structural interruption.”

These “vast expanses” of unimpeded views were realized in R-Cast acrylic panels engineered and custom manufactured to nearly 25 feet tall and an average of three feet wide set into accordion-fold doors on the north and south sides of the structure, and several wall panels reaching more than 27 feet tall and nearly 10 feet wide on the east and west faces. The accordion-fold doors allow for pedestrian traffic flow around the carousel, as well as fresh air when the weather is nice.

“The R-Cast acrylic enclosure, on the whole, functions in two main ways: to protect the carousel from the elements year round, and to let riders inside see out, and those outside look in at the carousel,” said Roger R. Reynolds, III, CEO of RPT. “The structural strength of our acrylic allows for larger views that don’t get marred by too many steel supports for the panels.”

With the opening behind her and the operation of the carousel turned over to the non-profit organization Friends of Jane’s Carousel, Walentas eventually expects to ease up on the reins once the operation is running smoothly. Right now, Walentas serves as the organization’s President and Chairman and still has a hand in the daily operation of the carousel, working out any hiccups that are encountered.

“We have two sophisticated ticketing machines that have been problematic since testing, before we even opened,” explained Walentas. “The weekend of our DUMBO Arts Festival was hugely busy and both machines totally failed. We had no choice but to forget about trying to sell tickets, so we gave free rides all day – in keeping with the spirit of the Arts Festival.”

The 50 foot diameter carousel features 48 fully restored horses and two chariots that were stripped down to their original, intricately painted patterns and carefully repainted in faithful detail. “My hope is for every child who lives in Brooklyn, as well as those who cross the river, or visit from around the globe, to have the opportunity to experience this 1922 Carousel, in this beautiful park, in this amazing building, set on the river with this extraordinary view,” stated Walentas. “Imagine riding your favorite horse, with the Brooklyn Bridge towering overhead, as tug boats pass by. It doesn't get much better!”

The carousel is open six days a week – closed Tuesdays – from 11am to 7pm. Winter hours start on November 6, during which time the carousel will be open Thursday through Sunday from 11am to 6pm. Tickets are $2 (children under 3 years of age and those under 42” tall ride free with paid adult ticket) and are available at the ticket booths at the carousel pavilion in the Brooklyn Bridge Park, accessed from either the Dock Street or Main Street park entrances.

About Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc.
Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc. has completed more than 1,600 projects in 53 countries in their nearly 30 years in business. RPT is known as the leading manufacturer, fabricator, designer, and installer of R-Cast® acrylic and resin sheets. In fact, RPT is the only acrylic aquarium panel manufacturer in the U.S. Their products have been used extensively in the architectural, signage, aquarium, water-retaining, and scientific industries worldwide, including major projects in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. RPT is constantly raising the standard for what can be done with acrylic and resins. Headquartered in Grand Junction, Colorado, RPT also has operations in Rayong, Thailand. Visit http://www.reynoldspolymer.com for more information. Proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council.

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