Volunteers create carousel creatures for downtown Albany museum

Volunteers create carousel creatures for downtown Albany museum »Play Video
Wendy Kirbey with one of the carousel creations at the Albany Historical Carousel and Museum.

ALBANY, Ore. -- Painted horses, a proud lion, and a racing greyhound are among the hand-carved carousel creatures coming to a project unfolding in downtown Albany.

Wendy Kirbey’s dream of putting together a 19th century-style carousel was born in 2002. She then went into the community to find the talent to make the dream a reality.

The crew of around 250 volunteers now working at the Albany Historic Carousel and Museum uses a host of sand paper chisels and other hand tools to shape the lifelike characters.

“I wanted to have a community project that everyone could be involved in,” said Kirbey, the project director.

There are around 250 community volunteers are hoping to create a menagerie of 52 carousel animals and two chariots. So far they have 29 completed.

The team restored an original carousel turning mechanism from the 1900’s, which is currently being stored off-site. Kirbey said she sees the project as a centerpiece for downtown revitalization.

Corvallis craftsman Lee Perigo’s Chinese dragon creation is four years in the making. He says you can't rush quality work. 

“It takes time to get the thing done. You can't come in here and hack away at it,” said Perigo.

Though it's taking longer for the dream to turn, Kirbey is determined to complete the project. 

“If I would have known what this entailed, I wouldn't have taken it on. But I'm really glad we all did,” said Kirbey.

They’ve gathered $2 million for the building fund, but still need nearly $6 million to finish the project. The Albany Historic Carousel and Museum accepts donations on their website.