National News

Family’s Merry Adventure Takes Them to Carousels All Over U.S.

The family had lots of fun on the merry-go-round at the Staten Island Zoo. (Photo: Paula Katinas)

WINDSOR TERRACE — Life goes ’round and ’round for Neal Gorman — literally.

Gorman, a public relations and crisis management specialist, has a hobby that’s sure to be the envy of amusement park lovers everywhere. He travels around the country in his spare time with his wife and three children and rides carousels.

The carousel adventure brings out the kid in him. 

“This whole experience has been really wonderful. The more I keep thinking about it, this thing is kind of religious in a way,” he said, adding that the fun times have brought him closer to his children.

Since 2018, the Gormans — Neal, his wife Dakila, daughters Brooklyn, 6 and Savannah, 5, and son Jackson, 1 — have been on 50 rides, from Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn to the Carousel Museum in Cleveland. Their adventures have taken them all over New York State, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio.

While the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted their adventure and they had to refrain from riding carousels for much of 2020, the family is starting to pick up the slack with several rides this year. This summer alone, the Gormans have ridden four carousels.

The Gormans lived in Brooklyn for several years and attended Mass at St. Charles Borromeo in Brooklyn Heights. The family moved to Rochester last year to live closer to elderly relatives. But Neal Gorman said Brooklyn is always close to his heart, as evidenced by the fact that he and his wife named their daughter after the borough.

The carousel adventure began three years ago during a trip to Chicago to visit Dakila’s family. 

“It all happened by accident. We were in Chicago. My wife was getting a haircut and was going to be in the salon for a while. And so I decided to take the kids to a carousel at the Brookfield Zoo. We went on and Savannah had a big smile on her face. And I said to myself, ‘This is going to be my thing with the girls. I want to take them on carousels.’ That was the magic moment it all started,” Gorman said.

Seeing the joy on his daughters’ faces, Gorman returned home to Brooklyn and immediately started asking family members for suggestions on carousels to ride.

“I wondered, ‘How many carousels can I take my kids to in a year?’ That was the challenge I set for myself,” he said.

He started with carousels in the five boroughs, including the Prospect Park Carousel in Brooklyn, the Bug Carousel in the Bronx Zoo, and Le Carrousel in Bryant Park in Manhattan.

Jackson wasn’t born yet when the carousel riding began. But the Gormans quickly got him onboard and despite his tender age, he is already a carousel veteran, with four rides under his belt.

Gorman, who has become something of a merry-go-round expert, researches carousels to find new ones to ride. The adventure has provided an opportunity to learn about the history of each merry-go-round. New York provided a wide variety of choices — from the Forest Park Carousel in Queens, built-in 1903, to the SeaGlass Carousel in Battery Park, which opened in 2015.

Gorman documents each ride on a spreadsheet, adding a new entry each time they go on a carousel.

The most recent ride took place a few weeks ago on a carousel in Old Forge, a hamlet in the Adirondacks. “That was our 50th,” Gorman said. “And we’re going to keep it up.”