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Boardwalk Magic: Fun, Family and Our Favorite Ride

When it came time to name our family-recipe soft serve icery, we chose a title we closely associate with the type of cheerful and carefree experience we aim to provide every one of our guests. The areas that feature our namesake ride, such as amusement parks and county fairs, are places typically surrounded by some of our favorite things in life: Fun, Family and Refreshment. We also believe every day should feel like summer vacation, and there is one place we associate with a carousel more than any other—the beachfront boardwalk.

Located on both east and west coasts, the all-American boardwalk is a wide wooden stage of wonder, featuring the endless saltwater blue of the ocean to one side, and an enchanting medley of man-made lights, sights and smells to the other. The traditional yellow pine boardwalk that borders Ocean City, New Jersey, features the first location of our decades-old, family-owned Icery business, a one-stop operation that inspired the genesis of Carousel’s Soft Serve Icery. Several blocks down the boards from this spot is a quintessential beachfront amusement park, featuring one of the beloved royal roundabouts that gave Carousel’s its name. Our research has found that not only was the classic carousel, also known as a merry-go-round, the first ride on any American boardwalk, but that carousels have been captivating kids of all ages for nearly 250 years worldwide.

The oldest carousel in the world, a man-powered attraction built in 1780 in Hanau, Germany, was originally constructed for the private entertainment of young Prince Wilhelm IX, a royal figure from nearby Hessen-Kassel. Located on a mountaintop vista inside a structure built to resemble a Greek temple, the prince’s personal carousel was constructed as part of his self-titled Wilhelmsbad Park. Featuring two chariots mounted behind life-size wooden horses (reserved for Wilhelm and his closest guests only), accompanied by a pair of separate stallions (for first-time visitors and lesser officials), the carousel became a word-of-mouth legend throughout the land. Royal visitors from as far away as Sweden marveled at the scene, reporting back to their countrymen scenes of “ladies riding in gilded carriages of the gods, which Juno herself would not have been ashamed to ride.”

Nineteen years after the debut of Wilhelm’s theatrical wonder, the newly-founded United States’ first carousel was constructed in Salem, Massachusetts. Described in local historic ledgers as a “wooden Equine circus ride”, this carousel was designed from descriptions of Wilhelm’s provided by European visitors. While less regal than Wilhelmsbad Park’s merry-go-round, Salem’s version was an attraction for the people, enjoyed by many more than one child. The oldest still-standing carousel in America, the “Flying Horses Carousel” of Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, was erected in 1876, sparking America’s full fascination with the ride, and setting in motion the construction of many more across the country. Six of the earliest American roundabouts are currently located in Binghamton, New York, known by enthusiasts as the “Carousel Capital of the World.” All were donated to the township by their original owners, on the sole condition that visitors never be charged to ride them.

As entertaining as merry-go-rounds may be, the beachside carousel from our founder Corey Curyto’s childhood represents much more than a flight of fancy—it represents the best things in life and their ability to grow and flourish.

“It seems almost every age group, young or old, has memories of time spent with a family member around one of these rides. Our entire Carousel’s experience is dedicated to recreating the feelings of those times and bringing them into everyday life, to better future generations.”

Curyto also references the lifelong cycle of enjoying the summer, then waiting all winter for the warmth to return, as a factor of the company feel.  “From the Carousel’s Soft Serve Icery colors to the sights and scents of our trucks, we set out to bottle up the experience of finally getting out to the beach after being cooped up all winter.”

Though he currently has a full young family of his own, Curyto still feels like a kid when reminiscing about his childhood on the boards and the ride that charmed him into borrowing its name. “My whole life I’ve always wanted to connect back to the emotions and thoughts of that childhood era. We would love for our Icery to become a new family ritual, the new nostalgia for our customers, and for today’s kids in 20 years to associate us with that original feeling.” The Carousel’s name also stands a promise to never lose sight of our roots, and a fitting reminder that no matter the age, with a mindful eye and an open heart, the magic of childhood can always circle back around…and around, and around.

For the location of the nearest Carousel’s truck in your area click here. To learn about becoming a member of the Carousel’s family as a franchise owner, please click here.