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Today is January 22, 2021

Carousel at the museum

By Steven Ward

Carousel at the museum

When kids would spot it for the first time, they would ask their parents if they could take a ride. But that’s when the attraction was in a Pearl furniture store. Now, children from all over Mississippi and visitors from other states will be able to hop on while visiting a popular state museum.

Miskelly Furniture in Pearl has donated an antique carousel to the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson as a new exhibit.

The large, antique carousel has been owned by Miskelly Furniture since 2004, when it was purchased from Felimana Luna Amusement Park in Argentina. For years, customers would ride for a $1 donation at the Pearl store. All proceeds were then donated to a different charity every year, according to a news release.

“We chose organizations that were dedicated to helping the children of Mississippi,” Oscar Miskelly said in the release. “The carousel has generated more than $200,000 in donations. Recipients included The Little Lighthouse, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Mississippi Children’s Home Services.”

Miskelly admitted the fixture of 16 years is hard to part with, but said the move ensures that more visitors will enjoy the ride as the museum hosts thousands of children, much more than the retailer.

“We want to see more Mississippi children have the opportunity to ride on a real antique carousel,” said Miskelly. “We know the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum will care for it as we have, so it will circle around for many more years.”

But how did the Miskelly family wind up with a vintage carousel in the first place?

“We got the idea from another dealer in Virginia years ago. The thought was to identify an icon that we would be identified with that ties us to family. So, when you think of a circus carousel there are generally fond memories and nostalgia associated with an old-fashioned carousel,” said Thomas Miskelly. “After that, it was natural to tie it to children’s charities. The store was actually built with the location of the carousel in mind.”

The carousel will be disassembled at the furniture store and taken in pieces to the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, where it will be reassembled on the grounds near the Children’s Barnyard and Multipurpose Building.

“Over the next couple of months, we will be building a new structure to house the carousel and get it ready for operation. The proximity to the barnyard, pavilions and multipurpose building will create an exciting new dynamic for birthday parties hosted at the museum, as well as fun for our daily visitors,” said Hayes Patrick, executive director of the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum.

“As a result of the generosity of Mississippians just like the Miskellys, the Ag Museum has excelled for four decades in providing a memorable experience for its guests. I would like to thank the Miskelly family for contributing to the joy and excitement our visitors will experience for decades to come,” Patrick added.

Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson also thanked the Miskelly family for the donation.

“I want to thank Oscar Miskelly and the entire Miskelly Furniture family for their generosity, and I look forward to seeing the joy their donation brings to all the families that visit the museum,” Gipson said.

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