By Tara Mae
As we sail into the summer season, the Grand Carousel at the Shoppes at East Wind in Wading River offers a ride through nostalgia and a trail to making new memories.
An extension of the East Wind Hotel and Spa, the Shoppes is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year and, according to Marketing Director Charlotte Coté, the carousel has been the focal point since its opening in 2016.
“Creating a quaint shopping village with specialty stores, food and more, the carousel became the centerpiece enjoyed by individuals of any age,” she said. “The custom indoor heated pavilion not only provides entertainment throughout the year but also protects the beauty and elegance of the carousel from the outdoor elements.”
Purchased specifically for the Shoppes’ indoor pavilion, the carousel was built by Chance Rides Incorporated of Wichita, Kansas in 1993, before residing at the Parmatown Mall in Parma, Ohio. It then sat in storage until it was rescued and shipped to Long Island.
The handicap accessible ride is designed to resemble the elegance and majesty of carousels from yesteryear. An Americana carousel, it has an oak floor, beveled glass mirrors, a standard pietop with a lighted crown, as well as wildlife and horse designs created by ride manufacturer Bradley & Kaye Amusement Company.
All jumpers, its animals include twelve galloping horses in the style of “country fair,” adorned with bright colors and jewels, a cat, a zebra, a reindeer, a rooster, a rabbit, and a dragon. The carousel also features a chariot and pipe organ calliope-style music.
A favorite of both the young and the young at heart, the carousel’s appeal is shared by both visitors and staff.
“Everyone has a memory of riding a carousel and that is what makes it special,” said Coté. “We see many local families returning time and time again with their children. Our operators enjoy seeing the joy in people’s faces, riding the carousel for the first time, and parents and grandparents reminiscing [about] their carousel rides when they were kids,” she added.
For Carousel Manager Robert Cutinella, who said his favorite carousel animal is the reindeer, the public’s appreciation and amusement are the best aspects of the ride.
“What makes our carousel so special is that everyone has big smiles from the time they walk in … picking out an animal (not an easy decision, even for me), enjoying the carousel’s music, and the experience of the ride. It makes everyone feel like a kid again,” he said.
This appeal perfectly complements the 28 free standing shops. Connected by brick-paved walkways and the carousel’s pavilion, they run the gamut from bespoke tailoring and boutique clothing to fine dining and assorted sweets.
“We’ve been going to East Wind for Mother’s Day and Easter Day brunches since before I had kids,” frequent visitor Helen Partlow said. “Once we had kids, we would take the whole family, including grandparents, and go to the carousel.”
She enjoys the carousel and shops with her family and showcases them through her role as publisher of Port Jefferson Macaroni Kid, a subset of a national publishing platform for parents.
“I think it’s a nice place to go when you’re already going somewhere, to add it to your day, or to go for a short visit … I’ll take them to the carousel, have ice cream, and pizza. We also go to the specialty food stores,” Partlow added.
Tweets Ice Cream Café serves a wide variety of tasty treats, such as classic ice cream flavors, specialty milkshakes, and Starbucks. “The kids get what they like and I get something fancier,” she said. Partlow describes Brezza Pizza Kitchen as one of the “best pizza places.”
Specialty food shops present niche or specific selections. The Cheese and Spice Market, for instance, has artisanal and farmstead cheeses and charcuterie take-out boxes, platters, and gift baskets.
Yet out of East Wind’s many options, perhaps what most appeals to Partlow is the carousel. “It represents one of those symbolic things that all kids seem to like, but aren’t always [available],” she said. “It represents a stage of childhood, where they are still into imagination and play. It will be a nice memory that I will look back on as they grow up.”
Coté sees the carousel as a symbol of the joy the Shoppes at East Wind may bring to the public. “The Shoppes is not just shopping. It is a place where families can come, enjoy the outdoors, grab a bite and have fun for a few hours and the carousel is a welcoming addition to that experience. The carousel is a beacon of happiness at The Shoppes.”
Located at 5768 Route 25A, Wading River, the Grand Carousel is open seven days a week. Operating hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The price of a ride on the carousel is $5 for one token (one token per ride) or 5 tokens for $20. Current COVID protocols are observed. For more information, visit www.eastwindlongisland.com.
*This article first appeared in TBR News Media’s Summer Times supplement on 06/24/21.
All photos by Heidi Sutton