By Rick Lanier
For the Opelika
Just as it has been done for more than six decades, the switch that brings 20 colored horses, the bright lights and holiday music of the beloved merry-go-round in Valley to life will once again kick-off the sights and scenes of the Christmas season throughout the Chattahoochee Valley.
For the last 63 years, the carousel has served as an icon of the Valley community at Christmas time. Each year, more than 60,000 people come from all around to experience the true magic of the holidays. For many, especially locally, it is a chance to once again gather with family and friends to smell the sawdust and garland, and to rekindle the heart-felt family traditions to be passed on to generations to come.
The carousel was originally gifted to the residents of the Valley’s six mill villages in 1956. Back then, families forged life-long Christmas traditions in cold December nights, hot chocolate and candy canes under the lights of the merry-go-round. From first kisses to marriage proposals, the legendary horses have seen it all.
When asked how long she thought the carousel’s run would last, Valley’s Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Blount said, “I don’t ever see it going away honestly.”
During the early years, the merry-go-round was mainly enjoyed by local residents, but today, through the connectivity power of social media outlets such as Facebook, we’re able to share our family stories of Christmas’ past to people around the world.
“It has just become such a huge event,” Blount added. “Today it’s much more visible to so many more people.”
In fact this year, the merry-go-round will surpass three million riders in its amazing history, and just as the tradition founded in 1956, all riders will mount up free of charge. If you find yourself in the Chattahoochee Valley during this Christmas season, stop by and see for yourself – maybe start your own tradition.
The merry-go-round is located at 6001 20th Ave. in Valley.
Hours of operation are as follows:
Dec. 1 to 19
Monday through Friday 5 to 9 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.
Dec. 20 to 23
Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dec. 24 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit the city of Valley’s “Christmas Merry-Go-Round” Facebook page or call the Valley Community Center at 334-756-5290.