The story below is an excerpt from our Sept./Oct. 2015 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, view our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
The new Kingsport, TN carousel took about 60,000 man-hours to create, involving more than 300 volunteers.
Reggie Martin created a good, sturdy horse for the Kingsport Carousel. But the craftsman did not know what to call it. So he went to a local elementary school in Kingsport, Tennessee, and found all the inspiration he needed during show-and-tell.
“I took the head and the neck,” says Martin, 72. “That’s all that I had carved at the time.”
Wrapping up, Martin revealed he really had a horse with no name. “Would you like to name it?” he asked the kids. “And, almost unanimously, they said, ‘Woody!’ Now, I don’t know why they said, ‘Woody.’ But, that’s his name.”
Kids, in the end, are what inspired Martin to lead an army of 300 volunteers for six years—and about 60,000 hours—to create the intricate Kingsport Carousel. This artful attraction—with more than 30 animals—opened in July.
Rides on this Model City merry-go-round cost $1 each inside the Pal’s Roundhouse, standing adjacent to the Kingsport Farmers Market, just off Clinchfield Street, in northeast Tennessee.
“During the heyday of carousels in America, they were all hand-carved,” says Martin, the project leader. “So these animals are authentic as far as the way the old craftsmen carved their animals. We’ve done exactly the same process.”
Volunteer carver Joe Herbert created “Black Beauty,” a horse that took 800 hours to carve and paint. “It was a lot of fun, a lot of camaraderie. And it kept a lot of us old, retired people off the streets,” says Herbert, 68. “The spirit of the people came together to do this project—hundreds of people. And it just came out really beautiful.”
For more: engagekingsport.com