City leaders to consider plan to bring carousel back to St. Augustine

Nearly five years after St. Augustine’s iconic carousel was dismantled in Davenport Park, there’s a new plan to bring it back for local and visiting families to enjoy.

The agenda for the St. Augustine City Commission shows on Monday, Jan. 22, a private citizen is scheduled to present a proposed lease agreement to buy and build a carousel at the park. Davenport Park is at San Marco and San Carlos avenues, next to the St. Johns County Public Library.

Before it was dismantled and moved in 2019 following the death of its owner, the iconic J & S Carousel was a well-known, charming city staple for generations. Zachary Melton grew up in St. Augustine and remembers it well.

“If you’d come off the Vilano Bridge, it’d be one of the first things you’d see coming back into the downtown area,” Melton said.

Melton remembers playing on it as a child and was sad to see it go.

“There was one particular horse that was really worn down,” Melton said. “For some reason, that was always mine. I’d always shoot for that one.”

If the city commission signs off on a proposed lease for a new carousel, renderings filed with the city indicate what the “Old Town Merry-go-Round” might look like. Melton now has a daughter of his own and would love to see this happen.

“It’d be awesome, especially with the public library (next door),” Melton said. “St. Johns County does a lot with its public libraries and its location there was great because it was two things you could do.”

According to the proposed lease, the carousel would be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. And if this proposed lease is approved at the meeting Monday, the paperwork says it would go into effect the next day and remain in effect for three years. From there, it would continue to renew itself every few years.

The Forbeck family, visiting St. Augustine from Palm Bay, loved the idea. Ciara Forbeck said a carousel would be another fun thing for her son to look forward to on their next trip to the Nation’s OIdest City.

“Things around us that we can all do as a family is very important to our values,” Forbeck said. “Cherished memories together is very important to me.”

Monday’s city commission meeting starts at 5 p.m. To see the agenda, visit: City Commission Meeting • City of St. Augustine Meeting Agenda Portal • CivicClerk.

To see the full carousel presentation, go to: City Commission Meeting • City of St. Augustine Meeting Agenda Portal • CivicClerk.

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