Dakota City featured at Como carousel
The volunteers of Dakota City Heritage Village are taking their show on the road. Or up the road, depending on how one looks at it.
Dakota City volunteers have been asked to talk to Como Park visitors about the way things were when the carousel was first constructed. Back then, most transportation to the big city of St. Paul would have been by train, and the concept of electricity was fairly new.
“We have been asked to come talk about life in 1914,” said Dakota City education director Elisa Peterson. “When ‘we’ went to the city we would have rode the train. We went to the city to see the sites and one of those sites was this great big, new carousel. In our ‘village,’ we ride horses. Horses do not go round and round. So this really will be interesting to see.”
Dakota City volunteers were invited to participate in the anniversary after Peterson met a representative from the carousel at a volunteer expo at the Mall of America in February.
Dakota City’s volunteers will be at Cafesjian’s Carousel from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, as a feature of the “Step Back in Time” theme day. Admission to the park is free, but tickets to ride the carousel are $2 each.
Because parking can be tricky, visitors to Como Park are encouraged to park in the Minnesota State Fair’s parking lot on Como Avenue and take a shuttle to the park.
Cafesjian’s Carousel was originally constructed on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. It was in operation for 75 years on that site. In 1988, in order to make way for new development, it was announced the carousel would be auctioned off, piece by piece. But within 72 hours of the announcement, a nonprofit group stepped forward to purchase the carousel, as a whole, and move it from the fairgrounds, Peterson said.
The group had one year to raise $1 million to save the carousel from auction. A mystery donor later identified as Gerald L. Cafesjian, donated $600,000 toward the project. The carousel was later named for him. In full, Cafesjian donated more than $1.2 million to the project, according to Como Park’s Cafesjian’s Carousel website.