Mailbag: Carousel ponies gallop off into history

What has 30 jumping horses, eight stationary ponies, two chariots and plays by the seaside?

The answer is the Balboa Fun Zone's iconic carousel of course! But unfortunately, it will no longer be gracing the bayfront carnival wonderland. The Balboa Peninsula's most famous horses have stopped galloping after delivering 25 years of rides and memories to visitors and local families alike. The Ferris wheel, arcade and trampoline are scheduled to remain on the site.

But for the first time in its 75-year history, the Fun Zone is without a carousel.

In honor of the Fun Zone's 75th Birthday, the Volner Family decided to pay homage to this historic troupe of ceramic steeds. So, this past August, we got decked out in our Sunday best and made our way to the carousel to take our farewell ride. But even though it was our last spin, we spent the entire two-minute ride giggling and tugging tightly on the worn leather reins as though it was our first.

And it was after this special visit that we decided to find out more about these historic horsies. We dug through online articles and made some interesting discoveries. The carousel was built in 1951 and was originally in Santa's Village in Scott's Valley, north of Santa Cruz, until being restored and being placed in the Balboa Fun Zone in 1985, where it replaced a vintage model that had previously been on the site since the opening of the Fun Zone in 1936.

Ever since the 1930s, there has always been a carousel at the Fun Zone. Until now, that is. The Newport Beach Nautical Museum that owns this area is planning to use the land where the carousel sat to build a preview center to showcase its upcoming expansion plans.

For our family, the carousel, as well as the entire Fun Zone, has provided a backdrop for wonderful memories over the years. We can almost smell the fresh pizza and waffle cones and hear the jingling of tokens as they dance through the slots of arcade games.

There are not many places left in Orange County that you can actually say you, your grandparents, parents and children, have all enjoyed. We tip our hats and raise our cotton candy in the air as we wish the Fun Zone, a very happy 75th birthday. And wherever those brightly colored carousel ponies gallop off to, we hope they continue to bring joy for generations to come!

Shelly Volner

Newport Beach


Ask developers to help clean up our bay

Re: "Dredging faces council vote," (Dec. 13): This project needs to be top list. It was supposed to be on a city water-quality budget list. What happened to that?

After all, the bay is a major part of the Orange County lifestyle. Before Councilman Mike Henn goes knocking on taxpayer doors with his hand out, he needs to go full-court press and get the Irvine Co. to fork over at least half the funds needed!

The Irvine Co., being the masterful developers of O.C., has poured the billion-dollar-earning foundations and roads, part of the reason why our bay has filled up with sediment and toxins via San Diego Creek! The county is also responsible.

It was never Newport Beach's intended design plan for our bay to fill in, so why do we have to pay? After all, our bay is designated as a recreational harbor, and the major water quality objectives are: safe water contact for humans and safe seafood harvesting.

By the way, kudos to our city for cleaning up the Rhine Channel and saving us $30 million. On the other hand, we can build a $130-million civic center but don't have enough to maintain our bay. Sounds like bad or other agenda-based leadership has kept the water flowing.

Let's see if our "environmentally skilled" mayor, Nancy Gardner, can take this by the horns.

Randy Seton

Balboa Island


Honor those who help with cleanup

Councilman Mike Henn has proposed organizing a group of private property owners, business owners and friends of the lower bay to help fund the dredging. He said one problem would be how or where to honor the donors. The Newport Harbor Nautical Museum would be the perfect place to honor these donors. They could put a large plaque there with all of the names of the gracious contributors who helped monetarily to dredge the bay. The bay needs to be dredged immediately for our sailors to be able to navigate our beautiful harbor or they will be stuck in the muck.

Wayne Graveline

Lido Isle

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