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Flying Horses Carousel

Antique Carousel at Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard

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Flying Horses Carousel

The Flying Horses carousel at Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard.

©Arthur Levine, 2007. Licensed to About.com.
There's something magical about the Flying Horses carousel at Oak Bluffs on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard. Children are entranced by the riot of color, noise, and motion of merry-go-rounds in general. First rides are a childhood rite of passage. The sound of the calliope music, the sight of the ornate, bejeweled horses, and the smell of the engine grease can transport adults back to their maiden voyages aboard the stately steeds.

But, the island's Flying Horses is especially prized. Built in 1876, it is the nation's oldest operating platform carousel and a piece of living history and Americana. It is listed in the National Historical Register as an official landmark. Prior to moving to Martha's Vineyard in 1884, the carousel spun on Coney Island's boardwalk. The 20 hand-carved wooden horses include real horsehair.

The Flying Horses is among a few carousels that still include a ring machine. The accessory was once standard on the rides and is the derivation of the phrase, "catch the brass ring." Once the carousel gets up to speed, operators swing an arm that dispenses metal rings into the path of the riders. Passengers have to reach out to grab the rings. While most riders pluck a single ring each time they pass the dispenser, I've seen experienced ring-grabbers nab as many as four at a time. And yes, lucky riders who catch the brass ring get a free ticket for another ride on the Flying Horses.

Flying Horses Carousel mini photo gallery

More info:
Flying Horses Carousel
Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard
Open seasonally from Easter to Columbus Day
(508) 693-9481

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