Harold Warp Pioneer Village received a generous gift from First Bank and Trust Company just in time for Christmas. On December 22, First Bank and Trust Company President Kelley Ayres presented a $2,500 check to Pioneer Village Director William Ascarza for the carousel restoration project.
“Jim Runions had visited me a number of times about the various projects going on. I went with him to the Village this fall and he showed me the carousel along with introducing me to the volunteers working on restoring the animals for the carousel,” Ayres said. “The history and workmanship behind the carousel and the animals is fascinating, and I appreciate the need to preserve this once the restoration is complete.”
The Armitage-Herschell Carousel at Pioneer Village is one of the few remaining examples of the new model introduced in 1879. The design uses a slender, 154-foot cable powered by a small steam engine to rotate the carousel along a circular track laid on the ground.
The Pioneer Village carousel was shut down years ago because of safety considerations surrounding the aging steam engine. At the time it was in running condition, but after several years of neglect it had fallen into disrepair.
Restoration efforts for the carousel began in the fall of 2021. Leading the project are Jo Ann Weisman of Hol- drege and Brad Roberts of Heartwell. Both individuals are experienced and gifted at carousel restoration. Weisman and Roberts have combined their knowledge and passion to restore 33 figures for the carousel. The figures include classic carousel horses, derby horses, and a menagerie of other animals. Once the restoration is complete and the carousel is operational, Pioneer Village staff can switch figures out so visitors may see different characters on the carousel with each visit As important as the figures are, the carousel structure also requires attention. Volunteers from across the country have helped with these repairs. Members of A Year to Volunteer replaced the caved in roof over the carousel during a two-week stay in the summer of 2022. Several of the volunteers returned for a second visit to continue the structural repairs on the carousel.
With all of the care and attention, Pioneer Village staff hope the carousel will be up and running on a seasonal basis sometime later next summer. The donation from First Bank and Trust Company will be used to improve the carousel enclosure to better protect the carousel from the elements.
“I would like to extend a thank you to our carousel volunteers who have been working on refurbishing the carousel animals and the structure along with First Bank for their generous donation to the carousel fund,” Ascarza said.
Volunteers and monetary donations for this and other restoration projects at Pioneer Village are always welcome. Contact the Pioneer Village office at 308- 832-1181 to volunteer or donate. Follow the Harold Warp Pioneer Village Facebook page or website blog at www.pioneervillage.com for upcoming events.