"If you build it, they will come," the advice made popular by the movie "Field of Dreams," is misleading.
Dreamers build things all the time based on this fallacy, and while some people do come, there often aren't enough of them to make the thing sustainable.
The realist's equivalent might be, "If you build it to remarkable standards of quality, with widespread buy-in from other people, if you work through many intimidating obstacles and if you follow it up with committed, intelligent and receptive management, then enough people will probably come over the years to make it worthwhile."
The Adirondack Carousel is ready to roll. Rides will be free for its opening from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
(Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)
The Adirondack Carousel, set to open Saturday afternoon, passes all those tests - with extra credit.
The carousel's carved animals are wonder works - each precious not only to children, who will love them dearly, but as American art. The many woodcarvers who made them have earned the highest praise.
There are many horse carousels out there, but no other with Adirondack wildlife, from moose to toad, black fly to bear - and the latest, a native brook trout arriving at the last minute from local artist Carol Vossler, with painting help by Nancy Brossard.
The paintings that adorn the carousel "rounding board" - the tent facade above the animals - are inspiring and will show off local artists' talent for many years to come.
The carousel building fits in with but also elevates Saranac Lake architectural themes. It blends into William Morris Park easily, leaving ample outdoor playing space, and it will look even nicer when the landscaping is finished. That location was one of many considered in a long and frustrating multi-year ordeal, but it has proved to be excellent - in large part because the building is so visible there. It cuts a fine figure from the corner of Church and Main streets.
We hope, somewhere, there's a large public space set aside for a comprehensive list of people and businesses that gave time, work, materials and money to make the carousel happen. The paver stones on the pathway to the building (which look way better than we expected, by the way) go part-way toward showcasing those folks, as did a series of thank-you letters on this Opinion page this spring and the many years of Enterprise coverage that's easily accessible through our online archives. But to officially put it all in one place would be stunning - blowing the minds of adult carousel visitors and offering a blueprint (albeit a challenging one) to others with dream and a hunger to make it happen. This long litany would help people realize how rare and special it is that this carousel exists at all.
This really is an amazing community. Just look at the evidence: Community Store, Mount Pisgah lift and lodge, train station renovation, River Walk, Winter Carnival, Daffest Derby, etc. It clearly shows that people here are both dreamers and doers: enthusiastic, practical, collaborative.
Carousel organizers have been sensitive to the community, too. Local kids loved that they got to name the animals, and parents and caregivers, especially those without much money to spare, will appreciate the affordable ticket prices: $2 per ride, less if you buy multiple tickets. For many adults, having their children beg to ride the carousel every time they go to this park will still be frustrating from time to time, but at that price, they can afford to do it once in a while. Kids can afford it with their own money, too.
In the 12 years since this thing was publicly proposed (by Karen Loffler and the late Chuck Brumley at a village board meeting) we've heard almost no flat-out opposition, but we have heard plenty of questions and doubts.
One common refrain was that while carousels are nice, people's energies might be better focused on other things that are more needed. True, no one NEEDS a carousel, but the general sentiment as we understood it was, "If people want it badly enough, it'll happen."
They did, and it did.
It's way beyond skepticism now, not just because a carousel is such a great thing but because this carousel was done so well. That's a huge deal and a point of lasting pride for Saranac Lake.
The carousel's obvious quality alone will probably carry it through for a few years, but in the long term there are obvious financial questions. After many conversations with Marge and Ted Glowa (the dynamic lead volunteer organizers), and now with newly hired Executive Director Paula Hameline, we're confident in this landmark's future and excited to see the creative programming to come.
While Enterprise editorial writers have cheered the carousel on over the years, we have generally played the role of avid observer rather than active volunteer. Yet even though we've watched its progress every step of the way, we are still flabbergasted that it has actually happened.
We figure most people feel the same way.
We're as excited as little kids about Saturday. Rides will be free. See you there.
(Editor's note: An incorrect statement about grant funding has been omitted.)