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Bollinger's Carousel

Finds A Home At Puyallup Fair
article and photo by Joye Redfield
Pierce County Herald
August 30, 1983

The Wurlitzer Band Organ cranked out the music as the wooden horses on the carousel went round and round. It was the days of the carnivals and side shows, the fat lady and the sword swallower. Levitt, Brown and Huggins Shows provided the entertainment.

The historic 1917 Philadelphia Toboggan No. 43 portable carousel has delighted crowds at the Western Washington Fair for decades. But each year it has been dismantled and stored or carted off to Portland where its owner, Bob Bollinger, owns an amusement park.

This year the carousel will reside in a permanent structure located at the main entrance of the fairgrounds. It is being donated to the grounds by Bollinger who was born into the carnival family in the early 1900s.ptc 43 horses

Show artist Tom Cooper will be doing the careful work of restoring and painting the wooden animal figures. Cooper, originally from Sarasota, Fla., was artist for Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Baily Circus. He did circus work and painted the wagons for the traveling shows.

Preserving carousels is the major concern of the National Carousel Association of Atlanta, Ga. It was from a recent convention in Portland that Bollinger discovered the value of the machine that has serviced the fair for so many years. According to Charles Walker, conversation chairman of the Carousel Association, the Philadelphia Toboggan portable is the most complete one of its kind in the country. Walker was concerned about speculators interested in purchasing the machine for its antique horses alone. he urged its owner to preserve it as part of the heritage of fairs and carnivals.

When Levitt, Brown and Huggins stopped doing business at the fair, the merry-go-round with its 42 horses, three abreast, fell into the hands of Bud Douglas. It was from the Douglas estate that Edward Bollinger purchased the carousel.

Edward, Bob's father, started in the amusement business in 1905. he began work as an electrician at the Oaks Amusement Park in Portland, one of the oldest continuously operated parks in the country. he bought the operating company in 1925 and the property of the park in 1943. The amusement park was built on the outskirts of town by the street car company Oregon Water Power and navigation Company.

The younger Bollinger began selling newspapers in the park and got into the amusement business when his father helped him finance a miniature train. Of course, he had to pay his dad back.

Edward Bollinger's show first came to Puyallup in 1934. There were mainly independents here then, Bollinger explained. The permanent roller coaster at the fair was built by his father in 1935. The Old Mill Mystic Water ride built in 1936, burned up in the grandstand fire. Bollinger father died in 1948 leaving the amusement park and rides to his son. (Note: the park went to his 2nd wife).
Bollinger has since incorporated as FunTastic's, the familiar carnival rides, traveling in bright yellow semis throughout the Northwest and setting up at local fairs, festivals and shopping centers. His three traveling shows comprised of more than 70 rides, will converge at the fairgrounds this fall offering the "best show ever" complete with a new spectacular ride the Wave Swing, built in Germany with 48 scenic panels and 3,000 lights. It was christened this year with a bottle of French Bollinger champagne. "No relation", Bob said.

As for the merry-go-round, Bollinger hopes to re-christen it at ceremonies this Thursday. "I think it should be with milk," he said.

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Updated 10/09/2013