Round and round: PNC Carousel reopens in Oakland’s Schenley Plaza

The eagle’s wing was cracked.

There were dents in the rabbit’s face.

The giraffe’s ear was scraped.

Those damages have been repaired — and the animals on the PNC Carousel are ready to go.

Over the course of the past year, they’ve been refurbished in anticipation of the 15th anniversary of the amusement park ride in Schenley Plaza in Oakland.

Workers repair the rabbit in a warehouse for the PNC Carousel in Schenley Plaza.

Operated by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the carousel — a fixture in the plaza — has reopened.

“The laughter of children, and the music of the old Calliope are all part of the charm and tradition of the carousel and of summers in Oakland,” said Shawn Fertitta, director of visitor experience for Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, in a statement. “We could not be happier about the carousel’s safe reopening, the upgrades, and the excitement it creates for the families who get to enjoy it every year.”

The merry-go-round has been renovated with brass plating, anti-slip deck surfacing and fresh paint on the brightly-colored fiberglass resin animals that give it a nostalgic look.

More than 600 light bulbs have been replaced.

The carousel experienced a shortened season last year because of the pandemic.

It was designed to accommodate everyone from the students at nearby colleges and universities to couples, adults, children, families and those with special needs.

Board member Harry Henninger, a former chairman and CEO at Kennywood, knew of a company that made an inclusive carousel.

Known as a Menagerie carousel, it has more than just horses. There also is a camel, elephant, giraffe, ostrich, rabbit, seahorse and other animals meant to symbolize the diversity of Pittsburgh and its people, according to the conservancy.

The carousel pays homage to one in Schenley Park from the early 1900s, Fertitta said.

“When you ride a carousel you don’t need a user’s manual, because you know what to expect,” Fertitta said. “There is a family pass available for unlimited rides. That’s a great value because we all know you can’t just ride it once.”

Nick Yanov, of Point Breeze, rides the Carousel at Schenley Plaza with daughter, Ingrid Yanov, 22 months, on April 14.

Nick Yanov, of Point Breeze, visited the plaza with daughter Ingrid, 22 months, and son Anton, 3 months. They were the first riders on Wednesday. Ingrid rode twice, once on the giraffe and another on the tiger as her dad held on to her. Anton was asleep.

“I wasn’t sure if it was open yet,” Yanov said. “But I am glad it is. She likes all the animals, especially the tiger. Next time she said she wants to ride the ostrich.”

The ride lasts two minutes.

“The carousel is a place of positive memories,” Fertitta said. “I’ve seen college and high school graduates take photos on the carousel and brides and grooms have their picture taken on the carousel. It’s perfect for birthday parties. It’s a special part of the plaza.”

Facemasks will be required for riders. The number of people on at one time will be limited.

Families may ride together. Animals and surfaces will be sanitized after each ride.

There are nearby restaurants. Plaza restrooms are again open to the public. There is a large, tented area with chairs and tables.

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, celebrating its 25th year, was founded in December 1996 by a group of citizens concerned with the deteriorating conditions of Pittsburgh’s parks.

Rides are $2. Tokens can be purchased using a credit card at a kiosk or the nearby Asia Tea House restaurant.

A $60 season pass, providing unlimited rides for two adults and up to four children, can be purchased at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy website.

An Access or EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card secures one free ride for each member of a family per visit.

The carousel will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.


JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, or via Twitter .