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Historic Carousel Caretakers Retire


Margo and Gordon Cronin are feeling kind of meloncoly now that the summer is coming to an end. That's because they've just stepped down from their jobs as carousel caretakers.

Any kid here will tell you, life in Waterloo's Firemen's park revolves around the carousel. And For 18 years, much of Margo and Gordon Cronin's lives have "revolved" around it too.

"When we watch the children's faces, we think of them as making memories," says Margo.

"I've seen 'em cry because they didn't wanna ride, I've seen 'em cry because they didn't wanna get off," says Gordon.

The 94–year–old historic carousel's been in Fireman's Park since 1925. Margo remembers riding it as a little girl, when her grandpa was at the controls. "We call this our leading lady...the horse that started everything...the one in memory of my father."

When Margo's father died in 1987, she and Gordon used memorial funds, to seed an effort to restore the deteriorating carousel.

"Hang on. We're going to give you a free ride," says Gordon.

They've volunteered to oversee and operate the ride ever since.

"I never thought I'd be a 'carny at age 81!" Margo exclaims.

One thing's kept them going, year after year, Gordon say, "Our love for the carousel."

But, after spending countless hours of their retirement volunteering at the carousel, literally running around in circles, they've decided to to step down and hand over the reigns of the carousel to someone else.

Gordon says, "I feel melancholy about the whole thing. After all, this has been my love since 1987."

"It's going to leave a void. We have met so many friends through this," explains Margo, "we haven't regretted one minute that we've put into it. It's been such a part of our lives."

And because of their commitment, the Carousel's been a part of the lives of countless kids.

"It's going to be a change in our lives," says Gordon, "I mean, we've been at it for so long and we've burned ourselves out so to speak, that we just have to step aside and hope and pray somebody will step in, fill our shoes, and do as... as we've done."

"50 years from now, what do you hope for this carousel?" I asked. Margo says, "God love it, and hope it's here! In this condition... I just hope and pray that it's cared for, the way we have tried to care for it."

Gordon and Margo say even though they won't be running the carousel anymore, they can still go down to the park and ride it next summer, and I have a feeling they'll be riding it until they're 100.


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