Who doesn’t like riding a carrousel? It was one of the most fun things to do when we were kids. Why does the fun need to end?
If it is weird to take your date to a carrousel museum, then I don’t want to be normal. Last week, my girlfriend and I wanted to go do something different, so she suggested that we check out the “Richland Carrousel Museum.” We were already going to be in the area and I never turn down a chance to visit a cool small town so I said, ‘sure’. Mansfield, Ohio is about an hour West on US-30 (otherwise known as the Lincoln Highway) from Massillon, Ohio. The drive is pretty nice with all the farmland in the area.
Once we arrived in the Carrousel District of Mansfield, I was expecting a museum, why wouldn’t I be? What we saw though was a single carrousel housed in a building that looked like it was just built around it. It seemed that we had the name wrong as well because the sign said “Richland Carrousel Park.” But no matter, this was going to be fun. We walked into the “park” and were met with a small gift shop with little trinkets and touristy things that signified that “we were here”. We bypassed this and went straight for the action, the carrousel itself.
Rides were pretty cheap, 1 dollar (US) each or 6 for 5 dollars (US). We went for the economical route and rode it 3 times each, it was a date after all. As you would expect, we did get some odd looks as we were the only adults there, who didn’t have kids that is, riding the carrousel. There was even a birthday party going on. We didn’t care though.
The Carrousel, as it turns out was built in the early nineties and was the first, hand-carved carrousel built and in used since the 1930s in the United States. We mounted our trusty ostriches and “sallied forth.” Words cannot describe the sheer giddiness (note that I am a full-grown bearded man and I was giddy) that we felt while on the ride. It took me back to when I was a little kid at the carnival. This only led to further puzzled looks from the other riders.
Once our three rides were over, and 20 or so shots later, we walked out grinning from ear to ear. I had seen some cool neon store signs down the road earlier so we decided to take a closer look. There was an honest-to-goodness, old-timey newsstand and cigar shop. It’s one of those stores you never see around here anymore. There was also a cool diner and a really nice bookshop next door. The shop had cool literary murals painted on the walls. Sadly I was not able to capture those on film.
Our next stop was the famous (well to us at least) Squirrel’s Den Candy Shop. This place was amazing. As I said to my girlfriend, ‘I wish I could take a picture of how this place smells’. It was like heaven, the smell of chocolate, caramel, nuts, popcorn; it was almost too much. The ladies working there were very nice to us and were eager to tell us all about the place. So after several delicious chocolate confections and a bag of pecan caramel corn later, we rolled out of there.
The last stop on our Mansfield adventure was the Central Park of Mansfield, made famous by the green park bench that was used during the filming of “The Shawshank Redemption.” I know it was kind of touristy but I thought I had to take the picture. There was also a beautiful old fountain at the park that I couldn’t resist.
So, if you are in the Ohio area and want a cool small town to visit, Mansfield is a pretty cool place. It has that “old-timey” feel that you can only get in small towns. It’s also not far from Ontario, Ohio if shopping is your thing (they have a big mall there). I learned to never give up that part of me that still loves “kid-stuff.” Embrace it; you will be glad you did.
Side Note: John Chapman, otherwise known as Johnny Appleseed is a much beloved figure in this area. So much so that he has a large mural and a statue in the city in his honor.