In July, the heart of the season for A Carousel for Missoula, a bearing in the carousel broke, causing the venue to shut down until it could be repaired.

Executive Director Theresa Cox tells the story.....

“The problem was a cylinder bearing on top of the carousel where a piece of it popped off and the carousel started riding really bumpy, and as soon as people learned about it they showed up to help,” said Cox. “We have an amazing young machinist named Andy Troutwine with Andy’s Shop who is fabricating that piece. So, he and Colt, our lead mechanic, went up on top of the carousel, removed all of the electronics, lifted the bowl gear so they could get to the bearing, took it out, and Andy has taken that bearing (which is 101 years old) back to his shop and is making those pieces.”

While this was happening, the carousel was losing money during what would normally be the busiest time of the summer season.

“We make half of our income in June, July and August, and of course, we shut down in the middle of July which means we could lose a full quarter of our income for the year,” she said. “This is really a difficult time for us.”

Cox related a touching story that defines the sense of community in Missoula.

“We had the Discovery Pre-School and Infant Center come in,” she said. “We saw those kids coming and said we’ll have to disappoint them and tell them we’re closed, but those kids came in and said ‘we know that the carousel is broken, but wanted to give you our ride money, so you can get it fixed. It was $8.30. That was such a lovely story.”

Other community members and businesses have come forward to help with expenses for the carousel.

“We have a Go Fund Me site, but we didn’t do it, Engel and Volkers and they said they would match donations up to $5,000,” she said. “We challenged everybody else to match the donation from the Discovery kids, but they can’t do fractions on Go Fund Me, so we have to round it up to $9.00, so you can go on to the Go Fund Me site and pledge $9.00.”

Cox said there’s no definite date for the carousel’s reopening, but encouraged supporters to watch their Facebook page for updates.

A Carousel for Missoula receives no direct city, county, state of federal funding.