Residents put special spin on carousel era at Sunset Bay Park

From left, in front, are: Marv Smith and Charlie Brennan. In back are Vince Martonis and Don Burghardt.

Members and guests at the Silver Creek Senior Center were presented with the history of Sunset Bay Park and its carousel at a recent meeting. Featured at the program was a model of the carousel built in 1999 by members of the Northern Chautauqua Wood Carvers club.

Hanover Historian Vince Martonis, who organized the program, had been searching for a home for the model since it was donated to the Hanover History Center in 2014. The Senior Center welcomed the model into its building this past March on an extended loan basis. Hanover Supervisor Todd Johnson took care of moving the carousel into the Center. Ed Newman, center president, made some repairs to the model and got it working again.

Martonis made arrangements to have Charles Brennan, 96, Don Burghardt, 88, and Marv Smith, 95, longtime Hanover residents, attend the meeting and present their memories of Sunset Bay Park and the making of the model.

He related how the model spent time at the Chautauqua County Fair in the Farm Museum, the Anderson-Lee Library in Silver Creek, and the Silver Creek Elementary School Library before the Senior Center welcomed it in March.

Burghardt recalled how he operated the carousel at the park beginning at age 12 in 1942. The park was started by his father William in 1937 and entertained many into the middle 1960’s. The park along with the carousel was sold, and the carousel was dismantled and the horses sold. Mr. Burghardt, an expert wood carver himself, has one of the horses in his home. He researched and supplied plans to build the scale model of the carousel he operated and maintained for so many years.

Charlie Brennan made the main carousel structure, including even the flags and the ticket booth, in his workshop and carved five of the horses. He made molds to cast the carousel decor and hand-painted it all. Marv Smith carved five of the horses, including the lead horse, and also the dog. His wife Fran supplied pieces of jewelry used to decorate the carousel. An ostrich was made by wood carver Peter Zielinski.

Many who attended the meeting had delightful memories of the park and riding the carousel. Some told entertaining stories of times spent there, and many stayed after the program to share memories and look at the fully functioning carousel, lights and all.