Greenport carousel expected to reopen this week

The carousel in Greenport’s Mitchell Park could reopen as early as this week, after a restoration company completed work removing lead paint from the attraction ahead of schedule, Mayor Kevin Stuessi said at a village board work session Thursday evening.

Mr. Stuessi said final testing would be completed by Friday, May 19, adding that “we should know by early next week if we’re in good shape and would be prepared to reopen the carousel in advance of the Memorial Day weekend.”

Last month, village officials learned that lead paint was detected during a test restoration of one of the carousel’s horses — leading to the popular attraction’s immediate closure.

Mr. Stuessi said last month that the existing paint on the horses was “likely the original paint from when the carousel was first manufactured.”

Greenport Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said at a recent board meeting that the carousel restoration project was expected to cost between $40,000 and $50,000. The final cost was not discussed at Thursday’s work session.

The carousel was closed in April, after a test restoration on one horse turned up lead in the paint.

The carousel is believed to date back to about 1920, based on serial numbers and other details, Greenport Village Carousel Committee member Majory Stevens told The North Forker in 2021. In the 1950s, Northrop Grumman purchased the carousel for use at company picnics and community events held at its Calverton plant.

The plant was decommissioned in 1995, and the aerospace and defense contractor offered to donate the carousel to a local community — setting off a competition that included Riverhead Town and a New Jersey amusement park. A letter-writing campaign spearheaded by Greenport’s third and fourth grade students ensued, and in July, 1995, the village prevailed.

“Dear Grumman, how are you today?” one letter read, according to former Mayor David Kapell. “May Greenport have this carousel? We need it! Please. There is nothing in this town for kids and it would be nice. I’d love a carousel. If you let us have it that would be nice. Please! From the desk of Mark DeLano.”

In 2016, artwork from local artists was added to the carousel’s rounding boards above the horses.