Merry Go Round hits 3 million riders

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, December 17, 2019

VALLEY — Seven-year-old Ethan King of Lanett was king for a day Sunday afternoon at the Christmas Merry-Go-Round in Valley.

He was the three millionth person to ride the merry go round since it started in 1956. He received a $100 gift card to Walmart, a bag of candy, a free Merry-Go-Round T-shirt and other prizes.

Ethan is a second-grade student at W.O. Lance Elementary School in Lanett. He was accompanied to the Merry Go Round by his mother, Jaime King, and his two sisters, Scarlett King and Christin Mason. They couldn’t wait to go over and tell Santa the news. Santa Claus is at the merry-go-round on weekends to meet with kids and ask them what they want for Christmas.

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The merry-go-round has a counter. It hit the 3 million mark as Ethan mounted his horse at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Roger McDonald told King the good news when his ride ended, and young Ethan had his picture taken with McDonald, his mom and Valley Mayor Leonard Riley.

“We had the biggest crowd of the season so far (on Saturday),” Riley said. “At one point, the line was backed up down the CV Railroad Trail past the bridge near the Farmer’s Market pavilion.”

The two millionth ride took place 15 years ago.

“I just hope I’m still around to see it go to four million,” Riley said.

The merry-go-round was closed Friday due to rainy weather. However, with good weather on Saturday and Sunday, both days produced big turnouts.

“About four years ago, we had perfect weather for the entire season,” said Valley Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Blount. “We had over 86,000 riders that year. It was one of our best years ever.”