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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published June 22 2013

Halgrimson: Memories of merry-go-rounds are gleeful

In the meeting minutes index for the Fargo City Council at the institute for Regional Studies at NDSU, there is the following entry:

“First merry-go-round in Fargo: This is first mention found, on May 7, 1894. J. Blair got permission for tent for his merry-go-round for one month between cold storage house and First Street South.”

I have the feeling that this merry-go-round was a carousel rather than the kind I had in mind, although the names are often used interchangeably.

When I think of merry-go-rounds, they are the kinds that were part of the playground equipment in local parks and behind the schoolyards in my youth.

When I think of a carousel, it’s the kind that I rode at the old Red River Valley Fairgrounds on north Broadway next to Barnett Field where the Fargo-Moorhead Twins played baseball.

Anyway, there are few merry-go-rounds left to go-round, and I not only miss going for a ride myself, but I long to see the joy they bring children spinning around, hair flying and laughing with delight.

In the early 1970s, I moved into an apartment that was two blocks south of Fargo’s Washington School on north Broadway. In the evening, when school was out, I often walked down to the unfenced playground to ride the merry-go-round and, sometimes, swing on the swings.

I’d get the merry-go-round up to speed, leap on and whirl around, filled with glee. All by myself. There never were any kids at the playground in the evenings.

And I’d recall the merry-go-round behind Horace Mann School, on which I had my first kiss.

When I called Fargo Park Superintendent Roger Gress, he told me all of the merry-go-rounds in Fargo had been removed in 2001, mainly for safety reasons.

I also talked to the parks department of both Moorhead and Dilworth. Neither city has any merry-go-rounds.

But after seeing photos in The Forum of a merry-go-round in West Fargo, I called their park department and was told that not only did Riverside Park, at 30 Park Drive, have one, but so did Herb Tintes Park, at 131 6th Ave. E. Bless them.

I went out to have a spin. Riverside Park is snuggled into a small neighborhood. The merry-go-round is the kind I remember from my past. The one at Herb Tintes Park is similar.

The day was sunny and warm, and I felt much younger than my 72 years as I whirled around.

Thanks, West Fargo. You made my day.