Canalside begins post-pandemic return with opening of century-old carousel

May 28, 2021

Canalside is looking to draw people back to downtown Buffalo after a pandemic kept visitors home last summer, starting with the restoration of a century-old De Angelis Carousel.

In a collaboration between the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) and the Buffalo Heritage Carousel, a century-old De Angelis Carousel is now open to the public. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday morning.

It’s one of many additions to downtown Buffalo this summer, which includes an expanded beer garden at Clinton’s Dish and an art installation at Wilkeson Pointe titled “Impulse”-- which is made up of 15 giant seesaws that light up and play musical notes.

Buffalo Heritage Carousel Board President Laurie Hauer-LaDuca says they’ve been working on bringing the carousel to Canalside since 2014. 

“We were in the midst of our restoration, we really couldn't get started on that till 2017,” Hauer-LaDuca said. “So from 2014 to 2017, it was a lot of hard work trying to get the land delineated and established and get our fundraising underway.”

Hauer-LaDuca said they brought national artists in to Buffalo to aid restoration six different times before they ran into trouble with the pandemic. 

Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO

“So we sent pieces to her (an artist) in North Carolina to work on, we finished pieces here and carousel carvings in Ohio to finish things there. So all three things had to come together, just this merge to be put together and installed,” she said. “And luckily it came together beautifully.”

The carousel had been in storage for 65 years before making the move to downtown Buffalo.

The ride will operate every day from eleven to seven up until Labor Day, after which Hauer-LaDuca said they are considering keeping it open on weekends during the later fall and winter months.

Hauer-LaDuca explained the impact a carousel can have on visitors by self-reflecting. “I've been a horse person since I was born. And just even going to Crystal Beach, that's a  blast (from) the past, that I would go and ride," she said. "I just always love them. It's a ride that takes you on your own personal fantasy journey. And you could be a warrior, whatever you want in the carousel, and every animal is different. Every animal has a personality. And then as an adult, I really started to study the artistry of them. They're just completely beautiful. People forget the artisans that carved this that this was a this was an everyday craft them to hand carve.”  Additionally, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation recently announced several other activities and events for Canalside and the Outer Harbor including Thunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show, which is planned for June 19 and 20.