Francophiles abound at UnBeige HQ, and with Bastille Day approaching, we’re stocking up on macarons and planning to sing La Marseillaise whilst astride a carousel horse that’s been around since the Third Republic. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to preview the world’s first traveling festival of vintage carnival rides and carousels as it makes its stateside debut.
Lady Liberty is green with envy. While the famous statue just reopened to the public, another French attraction, Fête Paradiso, makes its debut tomorrow on a neighboring isle in New York Harbor. The collection of late 19th and early 20th century carousels, swing sets, pipe organ, and games arrived here after six months of planning and a four-week installation period (by a French artisan family that rebuilt the rides on the island). The carnival rides will be open and operational during weekends through September 29.
“Governors Island is known for its fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty, and now we can further celebrate French-American relations,” said Leslie Koch, president of The Trust for Governors Island during a preview this week. She noted that the event’s exotic name derives from the film Cinema Paradiso, though “it’s hard to imagine it all here in the middle of New York City.”
“I’ve come to New York with my toys, after many years of dreaming about restoring this ménage,” explained Fête Paradiso’s creative director and carnival rides collector, Régis Masclet. “I’d been working alone on these French festivals, but after a wonderful encounter with fellow collector Roger Staub, I’ve been allowed to realize my dream.”