Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Legendary Looff Carousel Celebrates 100 Years of Joy

By C. MacDonald

Santa Cruz, CA-The world-famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's Merry-Go-Round celebrates its 100th Birthday in 2011. Already a National Historic Landmark, the famed Looff Carousel is known for its 73 hand-carved horses, spectacular music from two antique band organs (one a 342 pipe Ruth und Sohn, built in 1894), rings that riders on outside horses grab and toss at a clown's mouth, and providing a lifetime of memories for millions of lucky riders this past century.

My grandfather taught me how to pitch the rings in the hole. I took my son on his first merry-go-round ride aboard a white horse with a green tail when he was 15-months-old.

The oldest ride at the fun park has never changed location, so it's easy to find for the 50+ million people, who have been lucky enough to ride the colorful, memorable attraction that has been featured in movies, like Clint Eastwood's "Sudden Impact."

Definitely plan a trip to see and ride the hand-carved spectacular merry-go-round, created by Denmark's Charles I.D. Looff, which will celebrate its historic birthday, Aug. 3, 2011. If you haven't ridden it before, you can tell where it is by listening for the circus-type music and the shouts of joy from all aboard this real treasure.

You even can take some of the "thrill" home with you with a special Centennial Poster or a CD, "Carousel By The Sea," with such lively tunes as "Happy Days Are Here Again" and "Alexander's Ragtime Band."

The legendary seaside park, which also is known for its 1924 classic wooden "Giant Dipper" rollercoaster (built by Charles Looff's son, Arthur), is located at 400 Beach Street. (Take Highway 17 or Highway 1 to Santa Cruz and follow the Boardwalk signs.)

To find out hours, events and more about one of my favorite places, just type, "Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk" on your search engine, or visit

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