Christmas Merry Go Round to open on Friday evening

Published 5:41 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2018

VALLEY — A long-cherished tradition in the Valley resumes Friday evening when the Christmas Merry Go Round opens to the public for another year.  This is something that’s taken place in Valley every year since 1956. The 2017 run of the Merry Go Round had more than 76,000 riders. This brought the cumulative total to 2,910,062 riders since 1956. An exceptional season could push that mark past three million this year.

“We usually have more than 76,000 in a single year,” said Valley Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Blount. “We had a lot of bad weather that held down the numbers. We had weekends with rain, snow and cold weather. We had an unusually warm season in 2016 and had over 89,000 riders that year. With a good weather season this year, we could go past that three million mark.”

School groups and senior centers ride the merry go round the week before it opens to the public. Valley Haven students were the first to ride this year.

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The Christmas Merry Go Round officially opens at 5 p.m. EST Friday. Santa Claus will be there to meet the children and inflatables will be there for them to have fun on. The Jackson Heating & Air tent will be there for everyone to take a break from the cold weather.

“We want to thank them for providing this for us,” Blount said.

A unique feature of the enclosed tent is a privacy area known as Colin’s Room. Inspired by owner Dale Jackson’s son, Colin’s Room was created to help accommodate individuals with special needs and their families. The privacy area is available to anyone needing to respond to any unforeseeable situations, such as the need to changing clothes, diapers, nursing babies or addressing medical needs.

Saturday, Dec. 8 will be a big day at the Merry Go Round. It starts with a 9 a.m. with the Sleigh the 5k race on the CV Railway Trail.

“We’re encouraging everyone to register early so we’ll know how many t-shirts to have,” Blount said. “Registration is at the Community Center. It’s $20 up till the day of the race when it’s $25. Everything we raise helps us continue the tradition of the Merry Go Round in the coming years.”

From 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, children and their parents can make gingerbread houses inside the Jackson tent. It’s $5 per person to register. “It’s a drop-in event,” Blount said. “You can register in advance at the community center or on the day of the event. We will provide the materials. It’s always a lot of fun, and you can take home something you can eat later.”

Throughout the current season, Santa will be at the Merry Go Round from 5 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The season ends at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.