Spooky Botanica fundraiser will help restore old Joyland carousel

Written by Kristen Baker

Get down with ghosts and ghouls this month at Botanica's Halloween bash, all in the name of preserving a local treasure.

The second annual Ghoulish Gala, which will take place Oct. 23 at Botanica, will raise funds for the restoration, installation and construction of a new building for the old Joyland merry-go-round.

"Some people have heralded it as the best party they've ever been to," Cindy Miller, co-chair of the event, said about last year's gala.

The gala's ticket price includes food, beer and wine, with carnival snacks available. However, in the spirit of fundraising, the party offers many additional pay-to-play entertainment options, including authentic Joyland carnival games, fortune telling and Clydesdale-drawn carriage rides. These extras at the party can be purchased with $2 tickets, and for every extra guests participate in, their names are entered into a drawing.

An optional costume contest with cash prizes will take place, so attend the party dressed in your best Halloween attire. Guests will be able to dance and play into the night because the gala committee extended the 2015 party's end time to midnight.

The evening also will include a silent auction with exciting items such as a Botanica bridal basket, offering a discounted Botanica room rental and other wedding necessities, donated by local vendors.

Miller and her co-chair, Veronica Casados, have pounded the streets obtaining donations for door prizes and silent auction items.

"It's just been the most fun thing I have ever worked on because people are so enthused when you say Joyland carousel," Miller said.

The 2014 Ghoulish Gala kicked off Botanica's fundraising efforts for the restoration and housing of the Botanica Carousel Project. The Joyland merry-go-round will become the Botanica Carousel, but its heritage will be preserved, said Marty Miller, Botanica's executive director.

"There will be shadows of Joyland here, so people will know where this carousel came from and how it originated," he said.

Margaret Nelson Spear, who owned the Joyland amusement park with her husband, donated the carousel to Botanica last year. The carousel was purchased for Joyland in 1949 from a New York company. Restoration efforts already have begun on the carousel.

Botanica has been working with architects on proposals for the project, which Miller envisions will be an indoor/outdoor venue housing the carousel with a plaza and a garden area.

In addition to attending the gala, interested parties can donate to the carousel project by purchasing naming rights to a carousel horse or making a donation to help build the structure that will house the horses.

The gala is a fun way to support the project.

"There is so much to do at this party, people get really involved," Cindy Miller said. "It's just a fun, fun party."


Ghoulish Gala 6:30 p.m. midnight Oct. 23 Tickets $60 non-members/$50 members To purchase tickets, visit www.botanica.org

To make a donation to the Botanica Carousel Project, contact Jamee Ross at (316) 264-0448.

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