Carousel of Dreams Celebrates 6 Months of Success - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Carousel of Dreams Celebrates 6 Months of Success

Posted: Updated:
KENNEWICK, WA. -- This Sunday, the Carousel of Dreams will host a celebration for it's first sixth month of operation. It's been half a year, and carousel rides are still bringing smiles.

The big question is can the carousel remain economically viable for years to come. 

The carousel has spun around and around for more than 100 days now. For Executive Director Eric Van Winkle, it still hasn't lost it's magic. 

"Everybody here just absolutely lights up like a torch," Van Winkle said. "Carousels are very special."

Riders of all ages, agree. And I mean all ages. 

"Did you have fun?" we asked one little boy. 

"Yeah!" he responded. 

"This is great!"  Jerry Rose exclaimed. 

"I love it so much because it goes so fast," Kami Quatro said. "The reason why I love it is because I love the horses and I love riding on them."

"It's lovely, it's lovely," Dorris Lewis said. 

The carousel has been successful not just because of the rides, but because of this room. It doesn't look like much right now, but over the last 6 months it's been very busy hosting 150 birthday parties and 100 other events, including weddings! 

"Within a couple of weeks we had to morph our business model into this event center with a carousel in it as opposed to running a carousel with a back room," Van Winkle said. 

Those events along with ticket sales for rides have made the carousel a successful business. When the carousel first started turning, management had a $350,000 loan to pay off. With all the money coming in, they've been able to make double and triple payments. 

"By the end of this year, this building will be debt free because of it's operation now," Van Winkle told us. 

The City of Kennewick is pleased with their investment. According to Evelyn Lusignan, the carousel has helped turn the Southridge area into a destination for visitors. 

"On any given day you can see new hotels, new restaurants, new things going in," Lusignan said. "So right now the carousel is perfect for that location with all the dynamic things that are happening."

Proof of their success, this Sunday the carousel expects to serve it 100,000 rider. That person will win a gift basket. Van Winkle urges all to give it a try. 

"Come and give us a visit," Van Winkle said. "It is not what you think it is. This is not a carousel or a merry go round under a gazebo at the park. This is a museum caliber presentation of world class art right here in the Tri-Cities."

If you want to help the carousel celebrate six months, come by on Sunday. Who knows, you might just be rider number 100,000.