Looff Carrousel Turning 100 This Year

SPOKANE — Generations of families in Spokane have taken rides on the Looff Carrousel which is currently getting a makeover in preparation for celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

The Looff Carrousel is one of 140 working antique wooden carrousels in the country and this year it celebrates a very big birthday.

Under the watchful eye of Bette Largent the ponies at Riverfront Park wait patiently for opening day.  

“Unlike the early carrousels that only operate during the summer, we operate about 10 months out of the year,” Largent said.

A couple of weeks out of the year, the Looff Carrousel stops making the rounds while Largent, a professional restoration artist, and staff with Spokane Parks spend many hours working to spruce the carrousel up for the approximately 300,000 visitors that stop by each year.

On her To Do checklist: Touching up 54 wooden figurines with names like Billy Bob, Miss Llac, and Gerry, all characters with their own personalities according to Largent, who has been doing this for 17 years. For her this job never gets old.

“It’s the lights, the music, the excitement,” she said.

The prep work this year is especially important since the carrousel is turning 100.

“It looks in a lot better shape then the rest of us but we keep it in good shape,” Largent said.

What many riders don’t realize is that they’re sitting on hand-carved works of art dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

“Some people walk in and they’re astonished that it’s as old as it is,” Largent said.