Taking Rides Back into History

By Rohan, Virginia | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), July 28, 2013 | Go to article overview

Taking Rides Back into History


Rohan, Virginia, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


If you turn your back on the Manhattan skyline, you can easily imagine you're at a Parisian carnival in 1898.

That feeling is enhanced as you climb aboard an ornately beautiful, late-19th-century bicycle carousel, which starts to twirl, first forward, then in reverse, as riders pedal faster and faster.

This charming merry-go-round -- originally designed to help horse- loving Parisians get over their fear of the new and far cleaner bicyclette -- is one of the highlights of Fete Paradiso, a celebration of vintage French carnival rides, carousels and games that recently made its American debut on Governors Island in New York City. The festival, open to the public every weekend through Sept. 29, is just a free seven-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan.

It's not huge -- in all, 17 rides, games and fairground artifacts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including boat-shaped swings, a flying-chairs ride, a majestic pipe organ -- and, of course, carousels (among them a couple just for children, and one with a dragon theme). Though most are still actively enjoyable -- rides and games cost $3 each -- a few, no longer operational, are just for display. But it's fascinating to see the artistry, workmanship -- and whimsy -- behind all the attractions, even the beautifully carved and painted pieces that are propped up against trees.

"There are a lot of people who are coming out -- a lot of adults on dates, a lot of photographers -- to visit the fete as if it were a museum," says its creative producer, Chris Wangro, a onetime circus ringmaster whose company, Zaragunda, specializes in what he calls "large-scale, complicated outdoor public events."

"But you get the dual life, because we've taken what would have been, I think, a pretty staid museum and made it a living festival."

The idea for the traveling fete originated with two passionate French collectors of vintage carnival rides and art -- Francis Staub and Regis Masclet.

In 2011, at a Paris auction, Staub purchased more than half of the vast inventory of Francois and Fabienne Marchal, who since the 1970s had amassed what was considered the greatest collection of vintage carousel and carnival rides.

Staub thought of creating a museum in Paris, but the City of Light already has the Museum of Fairground Arts (Musee des Arts Forains). He joined forces with Masclet, who was originally in the advertising business and "ended up falling in love with various carnival and carousel rides and buying pieces and restoring them," Wangro says. "They put their works together and decided that, better than it being just a museum, it should be a living, breathing carnival."

In just a few months, Wangro and his team -- along with Masclet and his two sons, Adrien and Thibault -- made the fete "come to life" on Governors Island. "It was really a mad, mad rush," says Wangro, a former special events director for the New York City parks, noting the challenges of adapting the French display to the United States, where concerns for public safety, and even our electrical voltage systems, are very different.

Just a short walk from where the Manhattan ferry drops you -- follow the carousel horses painted on the path -- Fete Paradiso is spread across Nolan Field, which is surrounded by lovely yellow Victorian homes that once housed officers during Governors Island's days as a military base, and are now used for seasonal exhibitions and shops.

The attractions at Fete Paradiso include:

* Music-Hall Ball Guzzler, a carnival game sculptured in western France and dating to 1934. It involves tossing a faux apple into the ever-opening-and-closing mouths of caricatures of that era's celebrities -- including Josephine Baker, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Maurice Chevalier. Back in the day, if you got five balls into their mouths you'd win a bottle of wine. Now, if you succeed, you'll get a free drink at Le Gamin at Fete Paradiso (an outpost of the Manhattan bistro), whose menu runs from croque-monsieur to hamburgers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Taking Rides Back into History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.