A Carousel for Missoula in Montana took its first spin in 1995 in the community that worked together to build a dream, after four years and over 100,000 hours of volunteer work. Chuck Kaparich, a Missoula cabinet maker, promised the Missoula City Council that “if you will give it a home, and promise no one will ever take it apart, I will build A Carousel for Missoula" in 1991. Kaparich had spent many hours during his childhood on the carousel in Butte, Montana at Columbia Gardens. He had already purchased an antique frame that was in thousands of pieces and had carved four ponies for a carousel. The Missoula City Council agreed to the carousel and the dream Kaparich had for A Carousel for Missoula became the dream of the community.
To turn that dream into a reality, a board of directors are created to organize and fundraise. Mechanics started the restoration process of the motor and the antique frame's 16,066 pieces. Kaparich taught volunteers how to carve, and the city of Missoula started working together to build the treasure of A Carousel for Missoula. The carousel opened on in 1995 on May 27 after more than 100,000 volunteer hours had gone into its construction of thirty-eight permanent ponies, two chariots, three replacement ponies, mirror frames and gargoyle frames, fourteen gargoyles, and the country's largest band organ in continuous use. All of this is within one jewel box building.
Members of the community donated materials, services, encouragement, and time towards the construction of A Carousel for Missoula. Artists in stained glass created shimmering windows, students collected more than one million pennies to adopt four of the ponies, mechanics poured Babbitt, people carved majestic horses from wood blocks, and friendships were found among the woodchips. The community working together to build the carousel reached all the way to Calgary in Canada, where a friendship horse was built by the Midnight Rose Carvers for Missoula. The story of A Carousel for Missoula includes metal and wood, colored glass and concrete, hands and hearts, and many hours of labor by volunteers who lovingly gave their time to turn a dream into reality.
The giving spirit that built A Carousel for Missoula didn't stop when the carousel opened to the public. Volunteers continued to carve ponies for local non-profit organizations and other carousels, as well as restore wooden ponies for antique carousels. Mechanics continued to donate their time to maintain the machine to keep it in top condition, and several others help maintain and improve the carousel as a gift to the Missoula community. In 2001, more than 4,000 volunteers worked together to build the Dragon Hollow Play Area beside the carousel in only nine days. In just a short time, the grassy field transformed into a magical playground with the help of not just the local community, but also from friends throughout the world. A Carousel for Missoula is located within Caras Park in downtown Missoula along the Clark Fork River.
101 Carousel Drive, Missoula, Montana, Phone: 406-549-8382