Donley’s to go the rounds with auction of historical carousels
By Denise Moran For Sun-Times Media October 2, 2013 3:18PM
This carousel that once ran at Kiddieland Amusement Park in Melrose Park will be among historic items up for auction Nov. 16 at Donley’s Wild West in Union. | Submitted
What: Auction of antique carousels, 300 other items
Where: Donley’s Wild West Town, 8512 S. Union Road, Union.
When: Beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16. Preview party is slated for 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15. Viewing also will be at 10 a.m. Nov. 16 until the auction begins.
More information: Donley Auctions at 815-790-9435 or visit donley.auctions.com.
Updated: November 4, 2013 6:26AM
UNION — The carousel that once ran at Kiddieland Amusement Park in Melrose Park, and two other historical merry-go-rounds, will be among 300 antique items auctioned next month at Donley’s Wild West Town.
Randy Donley, founder of Donley Auctions, will host the event.
Donley’s Wild West Town was started by the Donley family in 1974 as a museum to display their antiques collection. It expanded into a family amusement park that now includes pony rides, train rides, panning for gold pyrite, a live Wild West show, roping lessons, a tomahawk throw and archery range, handcars, canoe rides and a petting zoo in addition to Donley’s Village Hall Banquets and Donley’s Old West Steakhouse.
According to Donley Auctions, “The ‘PTC 72’ Kiddieland carousel that will be auctioned was manufactured by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, which was the largest producer of carousels and roller coasters in the world. It was the last carousel that the company would make. While the 50-foot-in-diameter carousel will not be moved to the auction site for presentation, the carousel’s signature horses will be on display. The Kiddieland carousel, with 48 hand-carved horses, is the only carousel in the world with 16 ‘signature’ animals, all of which have the company’s logo carved into the animal structures.”
Kiddieland opened in 1929 at the corner of North and First avenues in Melrose Park. Its founder, Arthur Fritz, started the amusement park with pony rides. Over the years, the park added a variety of other rides. The carousel, which was built in 1925, was moved to Kiddieland in 1947 and operated there until the park closed in 2009.
While the carousel has been in storage, other Kiddieland rides were sold. For example, the former Kiddieland Midge-O-Racers, Kiddie Whip and Space Invasion rides now run at Santa’s Village Azoosment Park in East Dundee.
At the time of its closing, Kiddieland was owned and operated by Tom and Cathy Norini and Cathy’s brother and his wife. Cathy and her brother are descendants of the original Kiddieland owner. The two couples leased the land where the park was located from another family member who decided not to renew the lease. After the park was torn down, it became the site for a new Costco.
Tom Norini, who died of heart attack last month, pursued a medical career after Kiddieland closed, becoming an emergency medical technician at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park.
“When they were tearing down the last things at Kiddieland, I sat and cried,” Tom said in an interview last year. “It was very difficult for many of us. It was so enjoyable working with the public. But I’ve had to let it go. There’s no point in staying bitter.”
Tom was involved with the operation of Kiddieland for 33 years.
Glendale Heights couple Angelo and Sue Fraticola grew up in Melrose Park. They have memories of both Tom Norini and Kiddieland.
“Kiddieland had its own firetruck that would pick kids up once every summer and bring them to the amusement park,” Sue said.
“When my mother bumped her head and was taken to Gottlieb Hospital, Tom helped with the stitches,” Angelo said.
The two carousels that will be auctioned with the Kiddieland merry-go-round are the 1880s Herschell-Spillman steam carousel and a solar carousel.
The Herschell-Spillman merry-go-round is one of the first carousels ever made. It has 24 horses with two chariots and the original steam engine. According to Daniel Horenberger of Brass Ring Entertainment, “not only did the steam engine provide power for the carousel, but it was also the advertising vehicle. The engine would ride through town with horse and driver to alert the folks that the carousel was in town.”
The solar carousel is the only self-sustaining, solar-powered merry-go-round in the United States, according to Donley Auctions. The all-white carousel is powered by solar panels and lit up by TETRA Contour LED lights. It has traveled across the country to promote solar energy.
In addition to the three carousels, the auction will include a 1917 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a 1907 two-cylinder Horseless Carriage Automobile, a 1953 Packard Caribbean Convertible, a 1932 Buick coupe, leaded glass windows from Bogenrief Studios, antique restored pedal cars, arcade equipment, nickelodeons, antique phonographs, music boxes, juke boxes, and paper and tin advertising.
The auction also will feature the 1890s Mount Washington soda fountain and pharmacy interior from Haverhill, Mass. According to Donley Auctions, “The complete interior boasts all of the original displays, walls, drawer pulls and artisan leaded glass fixtures. The soda fountain portion of the interior features a polished marble counter and original marble syrup fountain produced by Lippincott Company.”
The Herschell-Spillman carousel and the solar carousel will be on full display and running at the auction.