From Carousel of Languages to Carousels of the World
This summer, with travel options more limited than usual, many families are having a “staycation.”
So Carousel is taking the whole family on a special virtual exploration of…the magnificent merry-go-round!
We’ll “visit” Carousels around the globe, learn a brief history of the carousel itself, find out how Carousel of Languages got its name, and even have a mini foreign language lesson.
Take a ride with us and discover the joy of early childhood foreign language education at Carousel of Languages!
Since 2014 the United States has officially recognized National Carousel Day each year on July 25th! The National Carousel Association and carousel historian Ronald Hopkins collaborated to establish this day in honor of William Schneider of Iowa who patented the modern carousel in 1871.
The carousel is an iconic children’s amusement, a symbol of joy. Whimsical and dazzling, it delights with twinkling lights, enchanting organ music, whirling movement, vibrant colors, artfully carved animals, ornate ornamentation—so many things to see, touch, hear, and experience. A feast for the senses!
More than 20 years ago, Carousel’s Founder and CEO, Patrizia Saraceni Corman chose a carousel to represent the brand new and innovative early childhood foreign language program she was building.
“My childhood years in Italy gave me a wealth of priceless memories—vaporetti, delicious gelato, the wonderful school I attended, and a love of the beautiful culture. The experience also instilled a deep connection to my heritage, and a firsthand understanding of the immense personal and professional value of bilingualism.”
As an adult, Patrizia’s intimate knowledge of Italian culture and ability to speak the language opened a world of professional opportunity.
When her own baby son was born, Patrizia wanted to provide the same rich experiences and opportunities for him.
And so, drawing on her background in marketing and communications for high-end Italian fashion companies, she collaborated with educators, linguists, and early childhood specialists to create her own unique and beautiful program.
“I created this program as a gift to my son, and I wanted to capture a feeling—to evoke the magical, culturally rich experience I’d had growing up and learning to speak another language.”
G is for Giostra!
The carousel—giostra in Italian—was Patrizia’s favorite image from a beautiful vintage Italian alphabet poster that hung above her son’s crib. It inspired the aesthetic of the program and learning environment. Its charming illustrations and mellow palette had a warm, nostalgic feel that perfectly captured the sensibility she wanted to create—freedom, playfulness, simple childhood pleasures, and the joy of learning.
Carousel of Languages was born!
In Italian, “giostra” also has a colloquial usage that means “a beautiful abundance.” And that’s what we have at Carousel—a beautiful abundance of children, teachers, languages, and cultures. It’s truly magical.
We believe that learning should be joyful—an exciting ride, as fun as a trip to the fair!
We offer a world of texture, color, music, and the rich sounds of many languages, where children feel happy and loved, encouraged to explore, to play, touch, hold, make sounds, try new words, be curious and ask questions.
Our research-backed program is based on multisensory learning through verbal, visual, and tactile association. Our Carousel homes in NYC and Shenzhen are full of delights for a young child’s senses—sparkly crystal chandeliers, soft vintage-look plush bears, silk monarch butterflies that “land” in unexpected places, and of course, many glittering carousels! Our young students love to peer into these magical music box miniatures and daydream.
The first carousels were based on a 12th-century training game for military horsemen in Europe and the Middle East—a jousting skills exercise in which mounted knights rode in a circle and tossed perfumed balls at one another. By the 17th century, the game had evolved and riders had to spear rings hung over their heads.
The word carousel derived from this game, called garosello in Italian and carosella in Spanish—meaning “little battle.”
The flashy, fun fairground style of carousel we know today was developed in the mid-1800s and was powered by steam. Some of them still have brass rings in honor of their history—try to grab one as you circle around!
Here are a few of the World’s Most Fascinating and Magical Carousels
Central Park Carousel
Located within walking distance of our flagship home on Madison Avenue, the Central Park Carousel is a classic New York City attraction. Beloved by tourists and native New Yorkers alike, 250,000 people ride it each year. There has been a Carousel on this spot since 1871!
The original Central Park Carousel, in operation until 1924, was powered by a horse and mule in an underground chamber beneath the ride, which were trained to start and stop at the tap of the operator’s foot above! The next two models were steam-powered, but both were lost to fire.
In the early 1950s a replacement was found, recovered from an abandoned trolley station in Coney Island. One of the largest carousels in the country, it boasts 57 carved horses and 2 gorgeous chariots. Originally constructed in 1908, it has undergone several restorations and is still thrilling kids of all ages today!
Jubilee Steam Gallopers
The Jubilee Steam Gallopers is a Victorian wonder that is now part of Carter’s Steam Fair, a “traveling vintage funfair” in southern England.
Originally built around 1895 by Tidman & Sons in Norwich, the Carter family acquired the Gallopers in 1976 and lovingly restored it.
“When it was new,” the fair’s owners explain, “this would be the fastest most people had ever traveled.”
- Don’t call it a “carousel” – a carousel typically travels counterclockwise, but in the UK, a “gallopers” travels clockwise.
- A 46-key Gavioli organ c. 1900, purchased by the Carters in the late 1970s from Roger Daltry of The Who, provides authentic fairground music for the ride.
Thought to be the world’s oldest existing carousel, pictured above is the Historisches Karussell Wilhelmsbad, in Hanau, Germany. You can see it’s quite different than the flashy carnival carousels of today. It was commissioned for the Wilhelmsbad Park in 1780 by Wilhelm I, Elector of Hesse.
Originally, it was turned by peasants, then later pulled by oxen.
It was twice badly damaged in wartimes, and then vandalized in the 1970s, and most of its horses stolen. However, after a lengthy restoration, in 2016 this antique beauty reopened to riders.
Visit the Efteling amusement park in the Netherlands to ride the Stoomcarrousel inside the “Carousel Palace!” This indoor steam carousel (now powered by electricity) is over 100 years old and according to the park’s website “turns to the traditional tunes from one of the world’s five remaining organs built by Gavioli.”
Listen to it here! https://youtu.be/Kac-bWoJzLg
Sit in one of the carousel’s beautiful coaches, or on a horse… or a pig! Funny carved clowns ride along and thumb their noses at you!
Photo credit: Sidonie Sawyer, Huff Post,
“The Dodo Carousel in Paris Lets You Ride Extinct Species”
Paris is home to many beautiful Carousels, but this newer one, built in 1992 is unique! At the Dodo Manège carousel, in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris’s sprawling botanical garden in the 5th arrondissement, children ride on extinct species such as the Dodo bird, Sivatherium, and Triceratops—and a few endangered ones, like the Giant Panda—as reminder to take good care of our planet. The 70-acre Jardin, a favorite of families and young children, was first established 400 years ago by Louis XIII as a medicinal herb garden, and now includes the Natural History Museum, research facilities, a zoo, and vast greenhouses.
Here are four translations for the word "Carousel"
We hope our families are enjoying their summer… And that every day is “Carousel Day!”