Point Loma alumni are attempting to raise $35,000 to sponsor the golden ‘Pointer’ dog on the carousel. / PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
Two Point Loma High grads, "Pointer Sisters" from the Class of '66, are heading up the campaign to not only keep the Balboa Park carousel — but restore and protect it too.
Of the $3 million PLHS alumna Ann Wilson and Kathy Anderson Kim are hoping to raise over the next two years, $1 million has already been donated.
One of the ways funds are raised is through sponsorships in the $15,000 to $50,000 range in perpetuity for the carousel animals. Wilson, chair of the nonprofit Balboa Park Carousel Capital Campaign Committee of Friends of Balboa Park, said her alma mater is pitching in to resuscitate the park carousel.
“Point Loma alumni are attempting to raise $35,000 to sponsor the golden Pointer dog on the carousel (which will have a permanent brass plaque acknowledging the donation),” said Wilson's committee co-chair, Anderson Kim. “Thus far, Pointers from many graduating classes have reached the $23,000 mark.”
Wilson noted previous private owners of the Balboa Park Carousel, a historic 1910 model valued at $2.6 million, were “low key” about its upkeep.
“They (previous owners) took loving care of the carousel, but they did no publicity or special events with it (for maintenance). Friends of Balboa Park bought the carousel last July. We are on a mission to spruce it up, have more events and give it a higher profile.”
The 1910 Herschell-Spillman menagerie carousel was made in New York and shipped to Los Angeles. Adjacent to the San Diego Zoo, the carousel is a menagerie of animals, and all but two pairs are original with hand-carved European craftsmanship. Also original are the hand-painted murals surrounding the upper portion of the carousel and the military band music. This carousel is one of the few in the world still offering the brass ring game for everyone taking the five-minute ride.
In 1915, the carousel was displayed in Coronado, before being moved up to Balboa Park around 1922. It originally was placed at the east of Balboa Park, near the San Diego Natural History Museum. In 1968, the carousel was moved north, to its current location, to make way for construction of the Bea Evenson Fountain, and the building that now houses the Fleet Science Center.
Wilson said Friends of Balboa Park got a break when purchasing the historic carousel.
“The Steen family offered it to us for $1.6 million (a $1 million discount) because they could take that as a tax benefit as we are a 501c3 nonprofit,” she said adding, “Now it's going to stay here.”
Wilson said Friends of Balboa Park made a $600,000 down payment on the carousel.
“We have a second installment, $500,000, due in March 2018, and third and last installment in March 2019,” she said.
The Friends of Balboa Park's committee co-chair said funding for carousel maintenance/refurbishment is coming mostly from donations from private individuals and foundations.
“I'm proud to say we've raised slightly more than $1 million for the down payment, and we're well on the way to have the next payment (second installment) in our hands. But we have a ways to go.”
Wilson encouraged PLHS alumni to pitch in for a good cause.
“We want to spread the word that we still need money, and so we're asking alumni to contribute whatever they can, $25 or $50, so that we can have our plaque on the (Pointer) dog.”
Wilson got involved with the carousel project because, she said, “I've been riding it since I was 3 years old, and it's near and dear to my heart. I couldn't bear the thought of it leaving the park. It's a real treasure — and a rare one.”
Balboa Park carousel
Where: Park Boulevard at Zoo Place.
Hours: Open Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer open daily until 5:30 p.m.