ST. GEORGE, Utah - The St. George carousel is a popular attraction in the downtown area, but that wasn’t always the case. For the first time in three years, it’s actually making a profit. What started as a bit of controversial use of tax dollars, has become a downtown draw.
The city council approved the purchase of the carousel in 2011, that was an election year and several opponents used the $275,000 purchase as an example of overspending.
The purchase proved to be more than the city bargained for. Leisure services director Kent Perkins said several repairs were needed to make the carousel run smoothly. Amid those repairs, a personal injury lawsuit against the city cost another $21,000.
“It was a bumpy start,” Perkins said. “But even as it was bumpy, the people were flocking to it.”
Now three years later, the carousel is making money. During the last fiscal year, the carousel brought in $40,66.82 in revenue and $23,787.92 in operating costs.
“The thing is generating more revenue than expenses by far,” Perkins said. “In fact, I think we’re probably bringing in twice as much as we spend.”
That was always the hope, and Perkins said while the carousel is now making money, that wasn’t the overall goal. It was actually part of a much larger plan to attract people to the downtown area.
Tiffany Taylor owns Judd’s General Store, located just across the street from Towne Square. She said the carousel, in addition to all the other attractions, has brought in more business.
“It’s a perfect marriage of where families and visitors can come,” Taylor said.
Residents and visitors have also had fun with the amusement park attraction. Ever since the city purchased the carousel in 2011, a series of rumors about where it came from have surfaced. One prominent one is that it came from Michael Jackson’s estate. Perkins said he has heard that rumor, but put it to rest.
“We bought it from the Hurlbut Corporation in California,” Perkins said. “Bud Hurlbut was one of the original ride designers for the Knotsberry Farm.”
The carousel is open Monday through Saturday with varying hours. More information can be found on the city’s website.