St. Catharines carousel at famed Lakeside Park opens this weekend with free rides

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Published May 19, 2023 at 10:34 am

One of St. Catharines’ favourite novelty attractions is in full rotation tomorrow (May 20) to kick off another summer.

The Lakeside Park Carousel will be celebrating its 102nd year in the park and courtesy of The Friends of The Carousel, all rides tomorrow, starting at 11 a.m., are free.

But don’t panic. When admission prices return on Sunday, it’s still just a nickel a ride, same price as it’s been for decades.

The carousel will run on the weekends only until Canada Day, when it becomes a daily attraction until Labour Day (Sept. 4). Then it flips back to weekends-only until Thanksgiving (Oct. 9)

So why is the ride still just five cents? Residents can thank a local antiques dealer, Dorothy Crabtree, who saw that the park and its amusement rides were about to be sold off in 1970 by then-owner Sid Brookson, who had managed Lakeside Park since 1928.

Crabtree appealed to the local community to help keep the carousel in Lakeside Park and St. Catharines Council agreed to assist but only if the money could be raised by citizens.

Crabtree was able to raise $20,000 by the deadline and Brookson lowered his $25,000 asking price.

On July 13, 1970, Crabtree donated the merry-go-round to the citizens of St. Catharines but it came with a big request. The City had to keep the price at a nickel per ride with that price maintained to this day some 53 years later.

The carousel became famous in a Rush song, Lakeside Park, penned in 1975 by late drummer Neal Peart, who had worked at the fair at a teenager.

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