Volunteer Appreciation Week: Carousel Volunteers Share a Passion for Preservation

Carousel Volunteers restore the historic Dorothea Laub Balboa Park Carousel

The Dorothea Laub Balboa Park Carousel, Balboa Park’s historic carousel, has been a staple of the park for over 100 years and is a cherished symbol of fun and nostalgia. Carousel restoration volunteers are committed to the upkeep of the carousel and to restoring the animals that adorn the ride.

Mel Quijano and Nancy Senatore, Carousel Restoration Volunteers

Nancy, a volunteer for nearly a year, dove into carousel restoration with enthusiasm. Contributing to the maintenance of such a historic structure is something she takes pride in: “The idea that something I have touched is so old and so historic, and that my touches are going to be there for a long time, is quite an honor,” she shares. Her love for carousels, cultivated during her time in Detroit, led her to volunteer in Balboa Park. For Nancy, being part of preserving the carousel’s history is a testament to her and her family’s love for carousels. “The carousel holds a special place in my heart. My granddaughter rides the carousel all of the time, so it was a natural progression to come volunteer here.”

Mel, a volunteer for about four months, sees volunteering as a chance to learn. “I am just learning everything as I go. Experienced volunteers and staff help me out, and it’s fun learning a new skill.” Mel set out to find volunteer opportunities in the park because of the sheer amount of time they spend here: “I was already here all of the time, so I figured I may as well see what volunteer opportunities there are. It’s a lot of fun.” Mel’s fondness for Balboa Park motivates them to contribute to its upkeep, whether they’re working diligently or enjoying casual conversations with fellow volunteers.

Tracey Ferguson and Gloria Shepard, Carousel Restoration Volunteers

Tracey and Gloria’s involvement with the carousel began with sponsoring a giraffe. “We started with a giraffe,” Tracey recalls. “We did all of the hard work, and then got to paint him, and after we were through, we asked Bill [the Carousel Manager] if we could do more. And then he gave us a zebra to paint, so we have gone from spots to stripes!” With restoration knowledge comes knowledge of the history of the carousel, which Tracey and Gloria are then able to share with visitors. “People stop by all of the time looking for information,” says Gloria. “It’s great to interact with visitors to the park. They are very interested and love the fact that the animals are being restored. A lot of them say, ‘I remember riding this when I was a kid,’ which we all did; we rode it many times as kids.”

For these volunteers, giving back to the community and preserving history are key motivators for volunteering. On why she volunteers, Tracey says, “I like giving back. I think that it is very important for all people to try and do something to give back, and it makes me feel really good to know that I am making a positive impact on people’s experiences in a park that is loved by many.” The efforts of carousel restoration volunteers ensure that the carousel remains a source of joy for park visitors of all ages.

In celebration of National Volunteer Week (April 22nd to 27th), we will be highlighting our different volunteer groups. We rely on the support of generous donors to deploy 300+ volunteers to serve our visitors and improve the park’s gardens, trails, and trees. Give now to cultivate the important work our volunteers are doing.

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