By Andy McKeever
09:10PM / Tuesday, June 30, 2015
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Jim and Jackie Shulman decided a decade ago what gift they wanted to give to the Berkshires.
Berkshire Carousel Breaks Ground On Permanent Home
On Tuesday, the couple took a momentous step toward completing the Berkshire Carousel project with a groundbreaking for its new home on Center Street.
The carousel features 33 hand-carved and painted horses in what grew to become an art and community project – which is the present to the community the Shulmans wanted to give.
“This is a historical event. It is the fulfillment of the dreams of many,” Jim Schulman said.
“Ten years ago we said together we can make it happen. And we made it happen.”
The carousel project began in 2005 out of a one-car garage on Merrill Road where community volunteers began carving the pieces to the merry-go-round. Over the next decade, more than 400 volunteers chipped in to help. Funding to support the project came from residents and area businesses.
The workshop moved nearly a half dozen times, as has the location of the finished product. The idea was for the carousel to be in Pittsfield, but when that fell through, the organization toyed with the idea of housing it at two different locations in Lanesborough and then one in Dalton.
Eventually, a private donor gifted the organization the money to build a home for it on Center Street in Pittsfield.
“It’s a great location. People can walk to it, and if not, they can drive. It has great accessibility,” Executive Director Maria Caccaviello said.
Tuesday’s ceremony signified the start of building a permanent home for it. Caccaviello says the first phase of the construction is set to start in July and the carousel should be up and running early next year. The first phase will install a small building for bathrooms, a snack bar and a gift shop. A pavilion that once stood at Ponterril will cover the carousel.
“It’ll be a small carousel, but it’s ours,” Caccaviello said.
The volunteers will be trained to operate it safety, and the organization expects to be up and running year round.
Concurrently, the Berkshire Carousel has launched yet another fundraising campaign to grow the size of the space. Two other phases are planned to open up event space, a larger concession operation, and space for a fully functioning workshop. Although the horses for the Berkshire Carousel are already built, the organization discovered a new revenue stream through the restoration of carousel horses from all over the country.
“It’s taking a while to sink in that this is actually happening,” Caccaviello said of all of the fundraising, planning and work that has gone into building the project.
The project is characterized as a community project because of the large number of donors and volunteers. Some of the funds came from state grants. State Reps. Paul Mark and Tricia Farley-Bouvier were both on hand to help with the groundbreaking.
“This has been a long time coming and it is a great project,” Mark said. “It’s such a beautiful community project that embodies everything this community is about.”
Farley-Bouvier said she is a carousel “goofball” in that when she goes to amusement parks that’s the first ride she goes toward.
But, the Berkshire Carousel is even more than just a ride. She remembers seeing all of the raw materials when they first arrived, and she said she is in awe of how the material turned into each piece.
“Perseverance does pay off,” she said.
While state grants and donors – like the Berkshire Bank Foundation, which is providing a grant for the pavilion – helped buy the materials and location, and volunteers put in the work, the project’s inception stems from the Shulmans, who came up with the concept and started the organization.
“I loved growing up here and I wanted to give back to the community,” Jim Schulman said, remembering the days his father ran Jim’s House of Shoes on North Street.