Merry-go-round returns and once again the Herstons are first in line

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, November 28, 2023

VALLEY — A light rain that was falling on Sunday didn’t stop the Christmas Merry Go Round opening on time, and for a 16th year in a row the Herstons were first in line to ride it. Jonathan and Katie Herston, their children and friends were the only riders there when the rides started this year. Cooter Williams and Jaime Quinton of the Valley Parks and Recreation staff were there to operate the merry go round. Williams ran it, and Quinton let in the riders under the garlanded arch.

The current streak started in 2007 when Jonathan and Katie were first in line with their infant children the first year it ran at Valley Sportsplex. They were back the next year when it was at the same location for a second year. In 2009 the merry go round relocated to the tennis courts on the Langdale Mill site. Not much of the once mammoth mill complex is left, but the merry go round has come back each year to that same site in the heart of Valley.

The Herston children are now in high school but their enthusiasm for riding the Christmas Merry Go Round hasn’t diminished.

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One thing that truly makes anyone a true Greater Valley Area person is that they have at some point in their life ridden the Christmas Merry Go Round. There are a few people in the local area who have ridden it at least once every year it’s been here. This is the 67th year of this much treasured Christmas tradition. According to Valley Parks & Recreation Director Laurie Blount, the merry go round played host to more than 70,000 rides last year. That number was slightly smaller than normal due to a mechanical problem with the merry go round just before the final day it was set to run.

Since the inaugural year in 1956, a total of 3,196,828 people have ridden it (Guinness Book of World Records are you taking note?)

The Christmas Merry Go Round is something people from all over flock to. People who grew up in the Valley and moved away make it a point to bring their children and grandchildren back to Valley to enjoy what they experienced when they were kids.

People from Alaska and Hawaii and many foreign countries have joined in the fun.

The riding season always starts after Thanksgiving and ends at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

From now through December 18th, the merry go round will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. EST on Mondays through Fridays, from 10 a.m. till 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 1-5 on Sunday. From December 19th through the 23rd it will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. It will be open from 1-5 on Christmas Eve.

A Sleigh the 5K run will start on the CV Railroad Trail next to the merry go round on Saturday, December 9th. It starts at 9 a.m., weather permitting.

Santa Claus and friends will be meeting children at the merry go round on the weekends leading up to Christmas Day. On Fridays and Saturdays he will be there 5 to 9 p.m. and 1-5 on Sundays.