The Carousel of Happiness is a unique and whimsical attraction located in the charming mountain town of Nederland, Colorado. It’s a delightful and enchanting place that combines art, music, and playfulness. Here’s everything you need to know about this one-of-a-kind carousel:
1. Creation and Inspiration: The Carousel of Happiness was created by Scott Harrison, a Vietnam War veteran who struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After discovering a carved carousel animal in a barn, he was inspired to create a place where joy and happiness could take center stage. He began carving animals to populate the carousel, and the project grew into a community endeavor.
2. A Labor of Love: This carousel is more than just a ride; it’s a work of art and a labor of love. Scott Harrison hand-carved many of the animals and figures that adorn the carousel. Visitors are treated to a whimsical menagerie, with creatures ranging from whimsical horses to more exotic animals like a dragon and a narwhal.
3. Musical Magic: One of the unique features of the Carousel of Happiness is the collection of antique and restored band organs. These mechanical musical instruments play lively tunes as the carousel spins. The combination of the charming animals and the melodious music creates a magical and nostalgic atmosphere.
4. Community Involvement: The carousel project brought the Nederland community together. Local volunteers contributed their time, talents, and resources to help bring Harrison’s vision to life. The sense of community spirit and collaboration is an integral part of the carousel’s story.
5. Accessibility for All: The Carousel of Happiness is designed to be inclusive and accessible to people of all ages and abilities. There are stationary animals that accommodate wheelchairs, making it an enjoyable experience for everyone.
6. Healing and Happiness: Scott Harrison’s vision for the carousel was not just to create a whimsical attraction but to provide a space for healing and happiness. The carousel’s uplifting atmosphere and the music from the band organs are intended to bring joy and comfort to all who visit.
7. Scenic Nederland: Nederland, the town that hosts the Carousel of Happiness, is a picturesque mountain town in the Colorado Rockies. It’s surrounded by stunning natural beauty, with opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and skiing.
8. Educational Programs: In addition to being a joyful attraction, the Carousel of Happiness also offers educational programs and events, making it a popular destination for school field trips and families.
9. Year-Round Operation: The carousel operates year-round, so whether you’re visiting in the summer or winter, you can enjoy a whimsical ride and soak in the joyful atmosphere.
The Carousel of Happiness in Nederland, Colorado, is a unique and heartwarming destination. It’s a testament to the power of community, creativity, and the desire to bring joy to people’s lives. This carousel is not just a place for a fun ride; it’s a place for healing, happiness, and a sense of togetherness.
Additional Information About The Carousel Of Happiness
The adjective “enchanting” has never come to mind in describing Nederland, Colorado, a laid-back, quirky, former mining supply town 18 miles west of Boulder. But the Carousel of Happiness, which had its grand opening May 29, 2010, changes all that. The old-fashioned merry-go-round, complete with sounds from a calliope, delights children and dredges up nostalgia among their grandparents’ generation who remember such rides.
Nederland’s carousel is the fulfillment of a 25-year dream of Scott Harrison, who began carving and painting wooden animals in 1985 and bought a century-old carousel frame a year later. The Carousel of Happiness combines the antique and the contemporary.
The frame is a 1910 model by master carousel builder Charles Looff. The motor is controlled by a computer, and the carousel is contained in a brand new, green 12-sided carousel house, complete with solar panels. Heavy insulation saves energy and
enables it to operate year-round at Nederland’s 8,233-foot elevation, withstanding frigid temperatures and fierce winds.
Harrison, who served with the Marines in Vietnam, found solace from the pressures of a combat theater in a music box that his sister sent to him. He became an international peace activist, and when the inspiration came to do something for children, especially disadvantaged and disabled youngsters, a carousel with a calliope came to mind.
This new carousel in the old style isn’t populated only with painted ponies but with an entire alphabet of whimsical animals, from an alpaca to a zebra. Wheelchair space is “guarded” by a friendly gorilla at the chair’s anchor spot.
Harrison calls it “an instrument of giving” to his community. In return, the community has given back with donated labor, materials, and money. Individuals, businesses and foundations contributed some $675,000, and the parcel on which it sits in the heart of town was leased to the non-profit that now runs the carousel for a token fee. It is on the west end of the Caribou Shopping Center’s parking lot, next to the caboose that is now a coffee shop.
The carousel site also happens to be along the Peak to Peak Highway, a scenic mountain route between Black Hawk and Estes Park (various sections are marked as Colorado Highway 119 and Colorado Highway 72). What a great leg-stretching, kid-pleasing stop.