2 row portable Parker carousel
Charles Wallace Parker was a carnie from Abilene, Kansas. As a young man, he traveled with carnivals and in 1892, bought a used carousel. It was in need of help, so he rebuilt the unit. He took off the manufacturer's name plate and replaced it with his own, calling his company the C.W. Parker Amusement Company.
Parker began building his own carousels and in 1911, built a factory in Abilene. While he was building his own carousels, he also continued rebranding other's carousels that he rebuilt. Because of that, no one is sure today just how many Parker carousels are left, probably less that 50.
Parker operated the company until his death in 1932. His son, Paul, continued to manufacture carousels until he retired circa 1950. When wood carving became impractical, the company began to use cast aluminum horses. The company continued making carousels into the 1940s when Paul Parker retired. It is believed that the C.W. Parker Amusement Company built about 1,000 carousels.
According to the National Carousel Association, 28 Parker carousels are known extant, 18 of those are wooden. The one in Fireman's Park in Waterloo, Wisconsin, is one of the few operational Parker carousels left. (Two more Parker carousels are extant in Wisconsin, one is reportedly in a traveling carnival from Wautoma and the other, a metal carousel, is operational at Ella's Deli in Madison.)
Parker Carousel #53 in Waterloo was built in 1911 and purchased from the Curtis Brothers Carnival (from Cuba City, Wisconsin) in 1925. It was placed in Fireman's Park and has been running there ever since. The carousel includes an operational 1915 North Tonawanda Band Organ and is a source of immense civic pride, even the city's water tower is painted to represent the carousel.
The carousel was fully restored between 1987 and 1991, however, it suffered damage during the floods of 2008. As of this writing, fund raising efforts are underway to move the carousel to a new location in Fireman's Park and to restore the carousel to its glory.