The horses will ride in La Plata
So. Md. Carousel Group signs lease; still raising funds for construction
The Southern Maryland Carousel Group finally found a home for the car- ousel it’s working on. Once enough money is raised, the horses will ride in La Plata.
The group signed a 15year lease for $1 per year Jan. 13 with the town to eventually build the fullsized carousel at Wills Me- morial Park on St. Mary’s Avenue. Once the group raises the necessary funds, a building will be constructed on the 12-acre plot to hold the working carousel as well as a gift shop, museum and work area.
“It’s exciting,” said Burkey Boggs, president of the carousel group. “Hopefully we can get the money to get this finally built.”
“I think it would be an outstanding addition to our parks in La Plata, and, really, all of Southern Maryland,” Mayor Roy G. Hale said in a telephone interview this week.
He said Wills Memorial Park is an ideal location for such a project since it already has restrooms and playground equipment.
“I think the whole [town] council is very pleased we were able to identify a location and keep the carousel in La Pla- ta,” Hale said.
Boggs and Melvin Williams, vice president of the group, have been working on the project since 2004. The carousel idea was hatched as a project of the Southern Maryland Wood Carvers — which Boggs and Williams both belong to — who have since carved all of the ani- mals and panels for the carousel.
Wood carvers from the group spent seven years from 2005 to 2012 carving the 52 animals, two chariots, rounding boards — depicting Southern Mary- land history — and faces of his- torical figures that will make up the carousel. They logged up to 6,000 hours a year working three days a week.
The animals, mostly horses, were painted by a varied group of artists and artisans over that time. The menagerie includes a rooster, grasshopper, dol- phin, blue heron, rabbit, Husky dog, pig, lion, goat, frog and two tigers.
Boggs said the carousel group is looking to ultimately raise $1 million to construct the carou- sel’s steel platform and frame- work and put up a building to house it, which will also include a gift shop, museum, space for parties and a workshop for carv- ing classes and demonstrations. He said, depending on the fundraising drive, they may have to scale back to just housing the carousel platform and plan to add the other spaces sometime down the road. also be mailed to The Southern Maryland Carousel Group, P.O. Box 2335, La Plata, MD 20646.
“In a way, it’s a big load off my shoulders to finally secure the land for the carousel,” Boggs said in a telephone interview this week.
“I hope we have a whole lot of people there to take the first ride,” he said, looking to the future. “I’m definitely going to ride.”
From left, Burkey Boggs, president of the Southern Maryland Carousel Group, La Plata Mayor Roy G. Hale and town clerk Danielle Mandley sign a 15-year lease agreement Jan. 13 for the placement of the carousel at Wills Memorial Park.
Above left, this horse, called Antique Horse, was carved by Daniel Mueller circa 1910 and was restored from the original Marshall Hall carousel, which was the inspiration for the carousel project. Above right, the Lord Baltimore horse celebrates Maryland’s history.