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National Carousel Association


In September 1995, The National Carousel Association created The Robert Bollinger Award.  This award is presented each year with a major grant from Fred & Mary Fried Preservation Fund (created for the preservation and conservation of wooden carousels).

This action was taken to recognize the donation of the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. Carousel #43 to the Western Washington Fair Puyallup, Washington and donation of Oaks Amusement Park  Portland, Oregon which includes the Herschell-Spillman Menagerie Carousel to Oaks Park Association, a nonprofit community resource.


WHEREAS, the purpose of the National Carousel Association shall be to promote conversation, appreciation, knowledge and enjoyment of the art of the classic wooden carousel and especially the preservation of complete wooden carousels; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Robert Bollinger has shown his belief in this purpose by his generous donation of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel #43 to the Western Washington Fair, Puyallup, Washington, and the donation of Oaks Amusement Park, Portland Oregon, (including the Herschell-Spillman menagerie carousel) to the Oaks Park Association, a non-profit corporation; and

WHEREAS, the National Carousel Association established the Fred & Mary Fried Preservation Fund, whose funds are to be used as grants for the preservation and conservation of carousels;

NOW, THEREFORE, the Board of Directors of the National Carousel Association has unanimously voted that from this year forward, the major grant each year will include a commemorative plaque and will be know as:

September, 1995


Story by: Brian Morgan - publication: Merry-Go Roundup

Robert E. Bollinger has had a long association with carousels and amusement parks in the Pacific Northwest.

He is a legend to carousel lovers for ensuring that Oaks Amusement Park in Portland, Ore., and the PTC #43 carousel at the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup, Wash., will remain in tact and operating - by generously donating them to no-profit corporations. His commitment to saving his carousels for future generations is beyond compare.

Many of our NCA members have met and been charmed by Bollinger, who despite health problems has attended out convention in Southern California and Colorado in recent years.

The Board of Directors resolved to honor him by creating the Robert Bollinger Award. Each year, the most deserved Preservation Fund grant will be designation the Robert Bollinger Award; the grant will be accompanied by a plaque designating the award.

With the assistance of Bollinger's wife, we arranged for him to be with us when the 1995 NCA convention visited the Puyallup Fair carousel. I announced the award during lunch and Terry Blake read the proclamation, which was presented to Bollinger in a deeply moving ceremony. The initial Robert Bollinger Award and grant were presented to the Ferry County carousel on the last day of the convention.

The following excerpts from available material present some of the history behind the award.

The Oaks (from an Oaks Amusement Park Calendar developed by Robert Bollinger)

Surrounded by the same stately trees for which it is named, Oaks Amusement Park in Portland, Ore., is one of the oldest continuously operated amusement parks in America. Built by the Oregon Water Power and Navigation Company, the park opened its gates on May 30, 1905, to Portlanders who arrived on foot and on horseback, in automobiles, and by boat from the Willamette River. In keeping with the design of other "trolley parks" across the country, however, most of its visitors disembarked from trolley cars running along the Portland - Oregon City tracks, which formed the easter border of the park.

Its 1908 letterhead proclaimed it "the most modern resort of the Pacific Coast," offering such attractions as "Shoot The Chutes," the "Old Mill:" and its paddle wheel and boats, swimming at the "Bath House" on the western banks of the river, and a carousel. A c. 1921 Herschell-Spillman menagerie carousel still operating the in the park today, in its original location.

Edward H. Bollinger began his life's work at Oaks Park as an electrician during construction, then worked his way up to park superintendent. In the spring of 1925, Edward purchased the operating company, and, in 1943, the park (comprising of 44.01 acres) from the Portland Electric Power Company.

Robert followed his father's foot steps, actively engaged in The Oaks activities. Upon Edward's death in January 1949, the ownership passed to Robert, who continued operating the park until January 1, 1985, when he donated "The Oaks" to a non-profit corporation he had formed to perpetuate the park.

Robert Bollinger chose Les Buell, former Jantzen Beach Park manager, as chairman of the Oaks Park Association, who then selected board members Hilbert Johnson, William Naito, Jim Heill, William Owens, Alfred Taylor, and Hall Templeton. Since their appoint in 1985, the chairman of the Oaks Park Association have had complete control of the operation and destiny of Oaks Park, a non-profit corporation.

Philadelphia Toboggan Company #43 (from a souvenir narrative created by Mrs Bollinger (under Robert's direction) for the 1995 NCA Convention visit to the PTC carousel at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.

The Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) started building merry-go-rounds in 1900. To meet requirements of the traveling carnival and circus, PTC designed a portable machine by mounting the power section and a hinged center pole on a four-wheel wagon. The wagon could be carried on a railroad car and pulled to the setup site. PTC made a limited number of these machines. Today, 1995, there are only two in existence.

When PTC manufactures these merry-go-rounds, they used a clutch assembly to drive the machine. It took great skill by the ride operator to provide a smooth start and stop. A safety feature designed by Walker LeRoy (former ride operations manager for Robert Bollinger) was installed on PTC #43. The unit, a "fluid drive" that employed an electric braking system, made operation of PTC #43 user-friendly. The fluid drive unit is started by a timer. The operator sets the timer for the length of the ride and presses the start button. Starting and stopping PTC #43 became a smooth operation with this new power unit.

PTC #43 was finished in 1917 for William Glick, who sold it to Pollacks, who sold it to Lusse. The Leavitt, Brown & Higgins Traveling Show was the next recorded owner, but ownership between Lusse and Leavitt, Brown, & Higgins is not clear. The later show closed at the end of the 1946 Western Washington Fair. This gave PTC #43 and a Grand Whip to the fair during a period when the fair did not operate rides; ownership of these rides transferred to Earl Davis and Edward Bollinger. By "straw vote" - Douglas drew the long straw and thus took ownership of PTC #43, giving the Grand Whip to Bollinger.

Earl Douglas died in the late 1940's and his brother, Bud, took over the PTC #43. During the early '50's, Robert Bollinger (son of Edward Bollinger) purchased the PTC from Bud Douglas. Bollinger had the horses and scenery of PTC #43 taken to Oaks Park in Portland, Ore., where he had converted a warehouse to refurbish his Herschell-Spillman menagerie carousel, which operated at Oaks Park. Tom Cooper and his wife, Patricia, headed the staff that refurbished PTC #43.

A $100,000 circular building was built to protect PTC #43. This building was dedicated Thursday evening, September 1, 1983. During the dedication ceremony, Bollinger donated PTC #43 to the Puyallup Fair. when the fairgrounds walkways were enlarged in 1986, this building was moved to its present location.

Before his passing, Early Douglas gave rides on his wonderful PTC #43 to the Sea Scouts. Each year the Sea Scouts stayed overnight on the fairgrounds and rode the rides, a great honor to any scout chosen to participate. One year, the scouts were all standing to one side of PTC #43 waiting for the signal to board. Douglas blew the boarding signal. All of the scouts stepped onto the same side of the #43. It came crashing down. Include din the damage was a bent center pole.

Today PTC #43 continues its rich history of giving joy to those who visit the fairgrounds.
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Updated 06.02.2013