Fur Rondy carnival celebrates 50 years with a Golden Carousel

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The Fur Rondy carnival is celebrating its 50th anniversary. To commemorate the event, Golden Wheel amusements, the family-owned company that runs the carnival, has introduced a new ride: The Golden Carousel.

11-year-old Ashley Perry rides the Golden Carousel. Perry was the ceremonial ribbon-cutter. (Photo by Wesley Early, APRN - Anchorage)
11-year-old Ashley Perry rides the Golden Carousel. Perry was the ceremonial ribbon-cutter. (Photo by Wesley Early, APRN – Anchorage)

Fifty years ago, Claire Morton came to Anchorage with her family from the lower 48 to pick up an Octopus ride for her budding carnival business.

“I came up here in 1967 to purchase a ride to take it out,” Morton said. “Fur Rendezvous was coming up. I stayed for Fur Rendezvous and I’ve been here ever since.”

Morton and her family are the owners of Golden Wheel Amusements. They’ve been partnered with Fur Rondy since they first learned about the festival. After decades of partnership, Morton says the bond is still strong between Golden Wheel and Fur Rondy.

“Oh. Very solid,” said Morton. “This is our 50th year. How solid does it get?”

Family ownership of the company is very important to Morton. She said that she has plans for the business to pass through her family for quite a while.

“[In] 2000: I turned it over to my daughter and son-in-law; same daughter who was 1-year-old when I first arrived,” Morton said. “And now my daughter and son-in-law are teaching the grandchildren. So the third generation will be taking over in the near future.”

Morton showed me some of the newer attractions such as The Rave which spins fast enough to hold riders to the wall as the floor drops out.  Morton also pointed out other small changes such as a small swing set for little children.

Then Morton showed me the Golden Carousel. She says Chelsea Eckert, her granddaughter-in-law, is in charge of the carousel’s unveiling. Eckert said she thinks the ride will be a crowd pleaser.

Claire Morton (center) and her grandson and granddaughter-in-law: Chase and Chelsea Eckert (Photo by Wesley Early, APRN - Anchorage)
Claire Morton (center) and her grandson and granddaughter-in-law: Chase and Chelsea Eckert (Photo by Wesley Early, APRN – Anchorage)

“It’s great that it’s our 50th Fur Rendezvous, so right off the bat, it has this certain extra celebration to it,” said Eckert. “And I personally am a fan of the classics so to see a new carousel on the midway warms my heart. Who doesn’t like a carousel? I think they’ll love it.”

Aside from the fun factor of the Golden Carousel, Golden Wheel also partnered with Providence Children’s Hospital to make the ride a little more special for the kids. 20 percent of the proceeds from the ride are going back to the hospital to help both the children there as well as their families.

Children gathered around the carousel as 11-year-old Ashley Perry, a patient at Providence, cut the glittery ribbon, signaling that the carousel is open for the kids.

The Fur Rondy Carnival runs until March 6th this year in Downtown Anchorage. Anyone wanting to ride the carousel has to be at least 42 inches tall, or be there with a parent.