Looff Carrousel caretaker retires after 28 years of service in Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. — From saddles to bridles and everything in between, taking care of the Looff Carrousel in Riverfront Park has been a 28-year labor of love for Bette Largent.

Every winter, she’s painted and restored the horses so they’re ready to ride in the summer, but this winter is Bette’s last merry-go-round.

“Emotionally and everything else I’d love to stay, but the body’s saying ‘Hey it’s time to take a break,'” Largent said.

She said she always had a passion for the horses, but she may not have seen it going this far.

“I figured it was going to be a winter job, and at that time, I worked in the gift shop and I wanted to have extra time to paint watercolors,” Largent said.

It may not have been watercolors, but for nearly three decades now, she’s had the chance to paint a different picture; one that leads to a special feeling which only comes on a carousel.

“I always say when you ride in circles, about three circles in, you have a feeling of euphoria, and I like to watch people ride because you can see this happen,” Largent said.

She said she’s had plenty of help over the years – countless family members and friends carrying horses in and out of the building for maintenance.

Now, she leaves that job behind, but her memories on that merry-go-round will last forever.

“It’s been emotional for me because of that. I’ve got a lot of love for this carousel and a lot of memories. 28 years of working on this one,” Largent said.