Rhode Island kids have been reaching for the brass ring at the Crescent Point Carousel for more than a century now, and while the surrounding amusement park has faded into history, the historic Charles I.D. Looff merry-go-round continues to spin new memories in East Providence.
Built in 1895, the Crescent Park Carousel was ornate even by the standards of Looff, widely acclaimed as America’s leading carousel builder. The ride was designed as a showpiece for Looff’s work, and still retains 62 of the master’s hand-carved horses and animals, as well as a quartet of chariots for less-daring riders. Stepping into the beautiful carousel house is a journey back in time, with the simple pleasure of watching the joyful faces of children as they whirl around in a blur of color, mirrors, and light, accompanied by traditional organ music. It’s hard to imagine buying more happiness for $1 — or free if your kids are under age 2.
Snacks, souvenirs, and a collection of historic artifacts and photos add to the experience, as does the Blount Clam Shack just outside, open during the summer months. Also take the opportunity to stroll around the 10-acre Rose Larisa Memorial Park, which runs along the Providence River on land where Crescent Park stood from 1886 to 1979. Imagine a time when the Looff-built roller coaster, the Toboggan Racer, thrilled visitors, young couples snuggled in the Rivers of Venice, and when families enjoyed a traditional New England seafood dinner at the giant shore dining hall that once stood on the bluffs overlooking the river. Modern entertainments include the City of East Providence’s summer concert series, held here.
The carousel operates daily in the summer, with more limited hours during the fall through Columbus Day. Check the website for details. 700 Bullocks Point Ave., Riverside, RI 02915; 401-435-7518.