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Merry-go-DUMBO for Ohio group

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Gene Juillierat saw the horse and started crying.

“I remember this horse,” the 78-year-old from Youngstown, Ohio, said, wiping his face with a handkerchief. “I used to say, ‘Giddy-up, go.’”

Juillierat’s reaction was actually quite typical last Friday morning in DUMBO as nearly 100 seniors from that eastern Ohio city converged on Jane’s Carousel — the lovingly restored, 1920s-era merry-go-round that, 25 years ago, was part of Youngstown’s Idora theme park.

Joan Yanchick organized the reunion after she saw a news segment about the carousel, which Jane Walentas — wife of DUMBO megadeveloper David Walentas — purchased at auction in 1984, and then spent 22 years renovating.

Yanchick immediately knew she had to bring those residents — those who shared childhood memories, summer jobs and prom dates — to the refurbished version.

“This [carousel] is extraordinary, and it is every bit as good as I imagined it,” said Yanchick, noting that four generations of her family have ridden the carousel. “But it was not this beautiful before.”

The 100-person group ranged in age from early 20s to 90s, and when Walentas turned on the carousel, the waterworks came out.

Mickey Rindin, 78, whose father co-owned the park, said he remembered the hours he used to spend polishing the pine floor when he was 15.

And for June Zordich, 67, the trip brought back memories of her junior prom, riding on the horses in her dress.

“We had our all-city prom at the ballroom in the park, so we went on the carousel in our gowns,” Zordich said.

For her part, Walentas stopped crying long enough to take pictures with the visitors and accept a proclamation from the Youngstown mayor, Jay Williams, who sent his wishes with the emissaries.

The trip came as Walentas is collecting signatures to get the carousel included in the proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront development. Walentas has said she will donate the carousel and a permanent, protective structure to house it.

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Reader Feedback

Sean Mallo from Marine Park, Brooklyn says:
I'm only 31 years old and it makes me very happy to see one of the most beloved landmarks refurbished and refurbished right. Good going guys.
Oct. 27, 2008, 11:51 am
Chris Narducci from Bed Stuy says:
I grew up in Youngstown and rode that thing as a baby (don't really remember now, but there are pictures). Idora became something of a mythical place in our minds...We used to sneak into the deserted park as teenagers and wonder what it was like to live in a city that wasn't collapsing and littered with the abandoned play things of years ago. Fitting that a piece of that has found its way to renaissance New York.
Oct. 30, 2008, 2:20 am
Isabel Pupino from Youngstown Ohio says:
I too am from Youngstown,OH. This past Saturday Apr.18 myself and 3 friends came to Brooklyn to see the carousel and found that it was not open. We were very dissappointed as we could only view it through a glass window and there was a gate around it. Could really not see much. Your web site said it was open from Apr to Oct. Hope to see it some day though as we are all 70 years old and have been friends since school. We had many a ride on it when we were kids. Isabel Pupino izzy938@yahoo.com
April 21, 2009, 9:39 am

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