LOGAN, Utah — A 1930s-style carousel has been taking shape for the better part of a decade out on the edge of the hills in Petersboro.
Petersboro resident Vean Woodbrey, 73, has been working to restore a two-row Allan Herschell “Little Beauty” carousel originally built in the 1920s, reported The Herald Journal (http://bit.ly/2bCZumF).
Woodbrey started the project around six years ago, and since then he’s been diagnosed with cancer and suffered partial paralysis in his leg, and he now gets around via electric wheelchair.
“When that happened, I didn’t think I was ever going to get it put together,” Woodbrey said. “But my daughters got together and started putting stuff together, lining people up, friends and neighbors.”
Woodbrey’s daughter Kandie Estes helped organize a volunteer effort and other get-togethers to work on the carousel.
Woodbrey’s daughter Traci Godfrey said that after her father’s cancer diagnosis, finishing the carousel became one of his biggest goals.
“Where he’s been really sick, and it’s been hard, this is all he wants to do,” Godfrey said. “If anything happens before he dies, the one thing that he really wants to see is the enjoyment of those smiling grandkids on the carousel.”
Woodbrey has 16 children — not including in-laws — and several of them live in Cache Valley and are helping with the project. He has 82 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Estes also said the project has helped bear Woodbrey up.
“You see it coming together, and you see the smile on my Dad’s face, and with how sick he’s been, we haven’t seen that smile,” Estes said. “He just lights up, and it’s amazing.”
Woodbrey said that when he was a kid, his parents would take him to ride the carousel in San Diego. Later on, after his family had moved to Salt Lake City, he’d collect pop bottles to earn money to ride the carousel in Liberty Park.
“I’ve always loved carousels,” Woodbrey said. “Years ago, I looked to see what it would cost to get one — and after I picked myself up off the floor, I started looking around.”
He eventually picked one for sale in Montana and hauled it back to Utah. The horses had been sold as antiques, which Woodbrey says is common among the few carousels left in the nation. Other parts were missing, as well, and much of the wood was rotted.
Since the original horses were missing, Woodbrey designed and built new animals for the ride himself. He’s made 10 horses, a giraffe, a sea dragon, a lion, a tiger and more. He built a panda and a polar bear out of whiskey barrels, and two “chariots” will seat parents and children face-to-face. Twelve of the animals move up and down as the ride spins, and the rest — many of which are larger, like the giraffe — are fixed to the floor.
The horses on Woodbrey’s carousel are larger than the originals, since he wanted adults to be able to ride them, as well.
When he was finished with the animals, Woodbrey painted them with heraldic designs.
Craig Thornley, of Hyrum, brought a crane to help lift a wooden elephant out of Woodbrey’s shop. The elephant was the first wooden animal Woodbrey built for the carousel, but it turned out to be too heavy for the machine. He now plans to use it as a “door-greeter.”
When Woodbrey bought the carousel, its frame and gearbox were intact, but he had to put in a new floor and replace some of the beams. In the past few days, they bought a new motor and are in the process of making sure all the mechanisms are properly aligned so the carousel will spin. Volunteers worked to wire up the motor.
One major element Woodbrey is still looking for is a gazebo to house the carousel and shelter it from the elements.
“I need a gazebo really bad,” he said, laughing. “Have you got one laying around?”
The carousel should be running soon, Woodbrey said, but more work needs to be done on the gazebo and the grounds before he’ll open it to the public.
One of his daughters has started a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for the gazebo and other expenses necessary to complete the project.
While Woodbrey’s pressed on despite his health issues, he says it’s already been worth it: “It’s been an experience I’ll never regret.”
Information from: The Herald Journal, http://www.hjnews.com