National Carousel Day in Balboa Park!

Everyone got a free ride on the Balboa Park Carousel today! That’s because it’s National Carousel Day!

Lots of excited kids and families were waiting for their ride on the historic carousel when I walked by. Every year on National Carousel Day people head to Balboa Park just for the special occasion!

The wonderful old carousel was built in 1910 by Herschell-Spillman Co. in North Tonawanda, New York. It ran for a few years in Luna Park, Los Angeles, then was moved to Coronado’s Tent City in 1913. In 1922 it was transported to Balboa Park where the Fleet Science Center is today. Finally it was moved to its present location near the San Diego Zoo in 1968.

Whenever I pause by the whirling carousel, I enjoy looking at the amazing carved animals, the carnival-like lights and mirrors, and the nostalgic art painted on passing panels. And I love listening to stirring music from the original band organ. I also gaze into a display case that contains historical information and artifacts concerning this special merry-go-round!

I’ve included two photos of the carousel being built back in 1910. Creating the carved animals required true artistry.

When beloved author Ray Bradbury turned a carousel into a time machine, I think he was onto something. Because whenever I ride one, I find that I’m a young boy again.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

New lights, new life for historic carousel!

Last October I noticed the Balboa Park Carousel was undergoing renovation during the park’s COVID-19 pandemic closure. You can read what I wrote and see those photos here.

Today I was walking past this historic 1910 Herschell-Spillman carousel when I noticed one side of its enclosure was open and lights were on inside. So I approached the structure to sneak a peek.

And I saw the same Armored Horse that I saw before! But now it’s painted more completely–and beautifully!

I also spoke to William “Bill” Brown, who has been operating and tending this historic carousel since 1972. He was carefully painting an intricate part of the wooden horse.

It’s apparent Bill absolutely loves what he does. You can read it in his eyes and smile.

He showed me how an earlier “model” of a hand-carved Herschell-Spillman Armored Horse appeared. You can see with that particular model the sculptural detail and the color scheme was quite different.

Bill also showed me how additional lights have been installed on the carousel!

The 1910 carousel had originally been designed to feature more lights, but too many electrical lights constituted a fire hazard, so many had not been installed.

In the next photo you can see two lights on either side of the carved head, just above the oval mirrors. For a hundred years there were two holes and no lights. That has changed!

That’s because all of the carousel lights are now safer, more energy efficient LEDs. New fixtures not only brighten the upper part of the outer framework, but the interior part of the carousel as well!

When the Balboa Park Carousel’s renovation is finally complete, it will be brighter and more colorful than ever!

To learn more about this carousel, which was built in New York, and which had been installed at Tent City in Coronado before moving to Balboa Park in 1922, click here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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An amazing Sunset Seat on the cliffs of Del Mar.

At the southwest corner of Del Mar, high atop cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean north of Torrey Pines State Beach, you’ll find a special seat. It’s called the Sunset Seat.

The Sunset Seat is a work of public art that was carved in the stump of a dead Torrey pine. The tree had been killed by bark beetles.

In 2015 this amazing public art took form. Inspired designer David Arnold and wood carver Tim Richards created a seat where anybody can sit and look out toward the ocean horizon, with a red-tailed hawk perched near their shoulder.

You can find the Sunset Seat a few steps west of a small parking area beside Camino Del Mar, a short distance north of Carmel Valley Road.

One day I will sit beside the beautiful hawk and watch a sunset.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Amazing photos: Fantastic, incredible wood art!

Amazing wood art. A hooded figure takes a break at an inn. Just Off The Road, Basswood, Randy Stoner.
Amazing wood art. A hooded figure takes a break at an inn. Just Off The Road, Basswood, Randy Stoner.

Today I moseyed around Del Mar and Solana Beach. My walk included a couple of stimulating hours at the San Diego County Fair. I just wandered about, soaking it all in, and found my feet heading toward my favorite part of the fair, the Design in Wood Exhibition.

Some of the best wood artists in Southern California–the world, for that matter–submitted their incredible pieces this year to be judged. The exhibition, a collaboration with the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association, is celebrating its 35th year.

Here is some of the wildly creative woodwork that really caught my eye. You’ll notice many pieces have an Alice in Wonderland theme. That’s because this year’s San Diego County Fair is all about that timeless children’s book penned by Lewis Carroll. White Rabbits, March Hares and Mad Hatters abound! Everywhere you turn there’s a tea party or a grinning Cheshire Cat!

The Alice in Wonderland theme intersects with Steampunk, of course, so many fantastic contraptions and quirky bits of wood art are included in the exhibition. Take a look!

Glass table supported by fantastic underwater character carved from wood. Califa's Realm, Avocado, Lorenzo Foncerrada.
Glass table supported by fantastic underwater character carved from wood. Califa’s Realm, Avocado, Lorenzo Foncerrada.

A steampunk writer might enjoy creating new worlds while sitting here! Time Machine Desk, Recycled Pine and Plywood, Jeffrey Comulada.
A steampunk writer might enjoy creating new worlds while sitting here! Time Machine Desk, Recycled Pine and Plywood, Jeffrey Comulada.

Yikes! Get out of the way! This eye-catching contraption is just too cool. Scorpion Wheelchair, Pine, Roger Aceve.
Yikes! Get out of the way! This eye-catching contraption is just too cool. Scorpion Wheelchair, Pine, Roger Aceve.

A truly amazing fantasy woodcarving. Julia the Dragon Killer, Bass, Antonio Barrios.
A truly amazing fantasy woodcarving. Julia the Dragon Killer, Bass, Antonio Barrios.

Ancient warrior and an incredibly elaborate helmet made of wood. Dracon Soldier, Bass, Antonio Barrios.
Ancient warrior and an incredibly elaborate helmet made of wood. Dracon Soldier, Bass, Antonio Barrios.

More outstanding artistry. Heron in a scene from a San Diego lagoon. Spirit of San Elijo, Torrey Pine, Lorenzo Foncerrada.
More outstanding artistry. Heron in a scene from a San Diego lagoon. Spirit of San Elijo, Torrey Pine, Lorenzo Foncerrada.

Wood grains flow in this crazy organic bench. Ongoing Conversation, Baltic Birch, Alan Johnson.
Wood grains flow in this crazy organic bench. Ongoing Conversation, Baltic Birch, Alan Johnson.

A very cool tangle-tentacled wooden octopus. Denizen of the Deep, Maple, Tom Edwards.
A very cool tangle-tentacled wooden octopus. Denizen of the Deep, Maple, Tom Edwards.

Perhaps this is a wood version of Strider from Lord of the Rings. Ranger, Basswood, Randy Stoner.
Perhaps this is a wood version of Strider from Lord of the Rings. Ranger, Basswood, Randy Stoner.

A mountain lion carved from wood keeps guard among other spectacular works of art. Kitty Kitty, Mahogany, Bill Churchill.
A mountain lion carved from wood keeps guard among other spectacular works of art. Kitty Kitty, Mahogany, Bill Churchill.

This skeleton pirate with a brass steampunk telescope is beyond awesome. Mutiny, Bloodwood Fir, Mike Anderson.
This skeleton pirate with a brass steampunk telescope is beyond awesome. Mutiny, Bloodwood Fir, Mike Anderson.

Two very cool handmade guitars with an Alice in Wonderland theme. I see clocks, the White Rabbit, a mad tea party, even a mustache!
Two very cool handmade guitars with an Alice in Wonderland theme. I see clocks, the White Rabbit, a mad tea party, even a mustache!

I love this example of imaginative wood design. Jack Rabbit, Alder, Ray Camien.
I love this example of imaginative wood design. Jack Rabbit, Alder, Ray Camien.

Members of the San Diego Scrollsaw Clubs demonstrate their craft to people visiting the Design in Wood Exhibition at the San Diego County Fair.
Members of the San Diego Scrollsaw Clubs demonstrate their craft to people visiting the Design in Wood Exhibition at the San Diego County Fair.

A wonderfully inventive piece of furniture. Birdcage Chair, White Oak, Patrick Atangan.
A wonderfully inventive piece of furniture. Birdcage Chair, White Oak, Patrick Atangan.

Looks like an animal skull in the desert Southwest. Early, Early American Chair, Poplar, Del Cover.
Looks like an animal skull in the desert Southwest. Early, Early American Chair, Poplar, Del Cover.

This might be the most intricate model tall ship I ever saw. Sovereign of the Seas, Boxwood, Mahogany, Ebony, Sycamore, William Norris.
This might be the most intricate model tall ship I ever saw. Sovereign of the Seas, Boxwood, Mahogany, Ebony, Sycamore, William Norris.

When a person becomes old, there's no need to become dull. Two Canes, Various, Tracy Talbott.
When a person becomes old, there’s no need to become dull. Two Canes, Various, Tracy Talbott.

A fun chest of drawers perfect for a kid's room. Buddy Bear, Walnut, Ralph Crowther.
A fun chest of drawers perfect for a kid’s room. Buddy Bear, Walnut, Ralph Crowther.

I wonder if Lewis Carroll imagined there would be steampunk powerboats one day. Looking For Alice, Various, Michael Rumsey.
I wonder if Lewis Carroll imagined there would be steampunk powerboats one day. Looking For Alice, Various, Michael Rumsey.

I love the cosmic layered wood sky with Saturn behind buildings. Night Surfing, Hardwood Plywood, Robert Stafford.
I love the cosmic layered wood sky with Saturn behind buildings. Night Surfing, Hardwood Plywood, Robert Stafford.

Gears aplenty. Steampunk Cat, Various, Stephen Knight.
Gears aplenty. Steampunk Cat, Various, Stephen Knight.

Now this work of wood art totally blew my mind. Absolutely beautiful. Stormy, Various, Chuck Collins.
Now this work of wood art totally blew my mind. Absolutely beautiful. Stormy, Various, Chuck Collins.

Yeah, some days this pensive chimp could easily outwit me. Thinking, Various, Daryoush Ababaf.
Yeah, some days this pensive chimp could easily outwit me. Thinking, Various, Daryoush Ababaf.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to enjoy!

Seaport Village’s historic carousel horses.

seaport village carousel horses

One of the best things about Seaport Village is its historic carousel. I like to buy a hot dog or onion rings from the nearby food court, or an ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s, then sit down at a shady table and watch families and kids flock to the merry-go-round. It’s also pleasant to take in a bit of live music from local artists who perform near the carousel on weekends.

This fun Looff carousel was built in 1895 and features over fifty colorful animals including a dragon, a giraffe, a teddy bear, a lion, and two horse-drawn chariots. Master wood carver Charles Looff is famous for inventing the uniquely flamboyant Coney Island style of carousels. In his lifetime he produced many popular carousels, amusements parks, roller coasters and Ferris wheels. Very cool!

Horse decorates exterior of Seaport Village carousel.
Horse decorates exterior of Seaport Village carousel.

Signs details long history of this Looff carousel.
Signs details long history of this Looff carousel.

The fun merry-go-round is a big favorite of young and old alike.
The fun merry-go-round is a big favorite of young and old alike.

People enjoy a perfect day near the Seaport Village carousel.
People enjoy a perfect day near the Seaport Village carousel.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!