There was a time when almost every town on the Jersey Shore had a carousel. Until recently, only two of the grand old carousels remained: Gillian’s Wonderland Pier Carousel in Ocean City, and the Dr. Floyd Moreland Carousel in Seaside Heights.
But at the end of July, Long Branch unveiled a new, hand-carved carousel with a seaside theme at Pier Village. Guests can ride a dolphin, a seahorse, a pelican and various fish. Even the traditional horses wear wreaths of seashells and seaweed befitting the carousel’s boardwalk location, just a few yards from the beach (and alongside the new Wave Hotel).
The new carousel is a reminder of the golden age of the American carousel, from 1870–1930. The Depression put an end to carousel production, but the Shore’s carousels continued to spin. As time passed, some were lost to fire or flood, while others that did survive were often sidelined in favor of more exciting rides. In the 1970s, collectors rediscovered historic carousel animals as folk art, and it soon became more profitable to break up the rides and sell the individual animals than to keep them running.