Our Annual Meeting was held last Friday at Jake's Seafood Restaurant. President Marie Schleiff presented a review of the 85th season. Some of the highlights of the past year included record-breaking numbers for many of our events and programs.
- The number of birthday parties significantly increased.
- Many wedding parties used the carousel for photo opportunities.
- Varied funcitons were held: reunions, weddings, business functions, a memorial service, and even a proper tea party!
- Our Friday Morning Storytime attendance rose from several to more than seventy.
- Our regularly scheduled events also set participation and attendance records: Derby Day, Easter Opening Day, Halloween, Santa photo shoot, Endless Summer and the Secret Garden Tour.
In addition, our Creamery was voted to have the "Best Ice Cream" in the area and we were most honored when Yankee Magazine named the Paragon Carousel the "Best Historic Merry-Go-Round" in New England.
- The opening of the new Paragon Park Museum attracted 3,000 recorded visitors from more than 15 states in addition to visitors from abroad.
- The Adopt-A-Horse Program brought in just under $10,000 during the season. Pre-season for 2014 is already at $8,750 with 34 horses adopted.
- A Grant Committee was formed.
Under the untiring and passionate guidance of Dennis Zaia as our president from 2008-2012, the organization was able to reach a position of stabilization, managerial organization, and financial management which was so needed to continue the operation. As he steps down from the Board of Directors, all the Friends of the Paragon Carousel cannot begin to thank him for his incredible effort to keep the doors of the carousel open and to bring a new level of professionalism to the organizaton.
Despite our strong movement forward, we know a series of stiff challenges remain which include but are not limited to the debt remaining from the loans of 1996, the aging building, the need for new equipment and repairs, accessibility, and restoration. Nevertheless, with three new board members with various areas of expertise, and our dedicated, passionate, and hard working returning board members, I have every reason to believe that the challenges will be met. We also have our faithful carousel army, a group of loyal, kind, and generous individuals who are always there to support our efforts to preserve and restore this magnificent carousel and keep it in its home in Hull. These are the folks who understand that in this complicated world of today, there must be a place for the good and the beautiful.
The Golden Age of American carousels ended 80 years ago; yet, this precious piece of Americana crafted by Italian sculptors and Jewish carvers still casts a timeless spell over thousands of our young visitors and the young at heart.