Project underway to restore Fun Time USA's classic carousel - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Project underway to restore FunTime USA's classic carousel

Posted: Updated:
Ray O'Neal was the longtime manager and then owner of FunTime USA in Gulfport. His nephew, Rafe, has launched a project to restore the park's classic merry-go-round. Ray O'Neal was the longtime manager and then owner of FunTime USA in Gulfport. His nephew, Rafe, has launched a project to restore the park's classic merry-go-round.
Three dozen, painted, aluminum horses have been in his shed for years. Three dozen, painted, aluminum horses have been in his shed for years.
"They're all here. They're here and they're ready to come out of retirement," said O'Neal. "They're all here. They're here and they're ready to come out of retirement," said O'Neal.
The merry-go-round was built in the 1950s by the Alan Herschell Company, a premier creator of classic carousels. The merry-go-round was built in the 1950s by the Alan Herschell Company, a premier creator of classic carousels.
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

FunTime USA was a popular amusement park in Gulfport for generations, until Hurricane Katrina shut it down eight years ago. But now, a man with a special connection to that attraction wants to restore one of its signature rides.

Countless coast families and visitors have fond memories of FunTime USA.  Ray O'Neal was the longtime manager and then owner of the attraction. His nephew, Rafe, has launched a project to restore the park's classic merry-go-round.

"But that's what I want her to look like when she's done," said Rafe O'Neal, as he showed visitors old photographs of the carousel at his uncle's amusement park.

He wants to rebuild the classic carousel that was a centerpiece at FunTime USA. Three dozen, painted, aluminum horses have been in his shed for years.

"They're all here. They're here and they're ready to come out of retirement," said O'Neal.

He remembers riding the rides for free, since his uncle owned the place.  It was also his first job during high school and college. Everyone he talks with, it seems, has a FunTime memory.

"Either been to FunTime or worked at FunTime. My cousin worked at FunTime. It was the greatest summer of my life. And there's such a love for the place, still after all these years. It's something I think we need to preserve as much of as we can," said O'Neal.

The merry-go-round was built in the 1950s by the Alan Herschell Company, a premier creator of classic carousels.

It will take thousands of dollars to restore this ride. O'Neal has turned to the local fund-raising website bee-a-backer.

"And it's for the Gulf Coast and only for the Gulf Coast. But people from the outside can actually donate. So, this is like a net over the entire Gulf Coast to help everyone raise funds for what they need," said website spokesman Mark Spain.

Countless Gulf Coast families and visitors have fond memories of the old FunTime USA, which once stood near Cowan Road and Highway 90 in Gulfport. O'Neal says he hopes to tap into that nostalgia.

"Most of FunTime was lost in the hurricane. And my uncle, very methodically, saved nearly all the merry-go-round that was at FunTime for over 30 years. It's been sitting in storage ever since Katrina," he explained, "And I just think it's time. We've lost so much. I just think it's time to bring a little joy back."

If you'd like to contribute, or just learn more about the fundraising campaign, visit: http://gulfcoast.beeabacker.com/campaigns/save-funtime-usas-merry-go-round/

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Prostitution sting nets 31 arrests

    Prostitution sting nets 31 arrests

    Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
    31 people are in trouble with the law after a three day prostitution sting in Richmond. Police told NBC12 they targeted specific areas where residents and business owners complained about the illegal activity.More >>
  • Two injured Omega Protein plant workers speak out

    Two injured Omega Protein plant workers speak out

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:17 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:17:11 GMT
    Two of the men injured in the Omega Protein explosion on Monday are speaking out about the deadly blast. In an exclusive interview with WLOX, the men describe what happened, and how they survived.More >>
    Two of the men injured in the Omega Protein explosion on Monday are speaking out about the deadly blast. In an exclusive interview with WLOX News, the men describe what happened that day, and how they survived.More >>
  • Hundreds of mourners celebrate life of Ja-Naya Thompson

    Hundreds of mourners celebrate life of Ja-Naya Thompson

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 6:54 AM EDT2014-07-23 10:54:08 GMT
    As Ja-Naya Thompson's short life was celebrated, there were a lot of tears and hugs as hundreds of people paid their respects during the visitation and the funeral service.More >>
    As Ja-Naya Thompson's short life was celebrated, there were a lot of tears and hugs as hundreds of people paid their respects during the visitation and the funeral service. People told me they went to Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church for two reasons, to mourn the loss of five year old Ja-Naya and to show support to the parents who must now face life without their beloved child.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

208 DeBuys Road
Biloxi, MS 39531
(228) 896-1313

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WLOX. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.