There is no better time than National Merry-Go-Round day (July 28th) to commemorate our treasured Dentzel Carousel, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year! No one can deny that there is a certain sparkle in a child’s eyes when they take a spin on our adorable miniature carousel, but the enjoyment is all the more special in light of the craftsmanship and history that went into this attraction. In fact, our carousel, donated in 1984 by Marion and William Dentzel II, is one of only twelve miniature Dentzel carousels in the United States.
The Denzel Carousel Company spans 6 generations of dedicated carousel craftsmen. It all began when wagon-maker Michael Denzel of Southern Germany sent his son Gustav to America in the 1850’s with a full sized carousel they had made as a winter hobby. Gustav established a cabinet-making and carousel business for himself in Philadelphia, and from there the company expanded across the nation. William Denzel II- who donated the carousel that children now enjoy every day at the Children’s Museum at La Habra-was Gustav’s grandson. From his home in the San Fernando Valley, William II set out to carry on his family’s woodcarving past, and without him we would not have our beautiful 10-ft park-style carousel.
Our particular carousel has eight colorful and distinctive animals that children can enjoy, including a unicorn named Milkyway, a pig name Debbie and a dog named Gorp. However, the animals you see today are not original to the carousel. The original animals were made of Fiberglas, a material no longer used for the production of carousel animals. After 20 years of enjoyment from thousands of children, the Fiberglas animals had seen a lot of wear and tear, and in 2005 they were replaced by the wooden animals you see today. The new animals were custom made by William H. Dentzel III, and will be sure to see many more turns around our Carousel room.
We are so honored to be a part of the history of the Dentzel Carousel Company, and that our Dentzel Carousel continues to be a part of our history as a museum. Every half hour that the museum is open something magical happens: the carousel music starts up and the carousel begins its grand rotation with waving children atop every decorative animal, and even after 30 years it’s hard not to see it and smile.