The carrousel at the former Excelsior Amusement Park was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, a world-renowned carrousel company. It was housed in its own specially-designed circular white building with a red rooftop. The carrousel was hand-carved and hand-painted and included 42 horses and two chariots.
The carrousel used music to attract riders, as well as provide entertainment during rides. The music was created by a band organ and featured marches and waltzes by John Philip Sousa, an American composer and conductor, who was known for his American military marches.
Sadly, after almost 50 years, the Excelsior Amusement park closed and, in July of 1974, many of the items were auctioned off to the public. The carrousel building was moved to a private residence, known as Victoria Farms, and was later demolished when Deer Run Golf Club was built in Victoria.
Several of the rides were purchased by operators of Valleyfair in Shakopee, including the carrousel. There was some resistance from people in the Excelsior area, who did not want the carrousel moved away from town. As a result, it was disassembled in the middle of the night, and each horse was hidden in various locations across the Twin Cities.
Today, you can enjoy the nostalgic past of the carrousel by visiting Valleyfair, where the ride has taken center stage by the entrance since 1976.
Deanna Bunkelman serves as the president of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society.