Kings Island's carousel band organ a source of passion

Posted Wednesday, September 9, 2015 9:27 AM | Contributed by Jeff

From the feature:

It took nine years. More than half of Mikey Mills’ life.

First, he scribbled handwritten letters on ripped-out notebook paper. With the clumsy cursive of a boy growing into his hands, he pleaded for them to release her.

He made desperate phone calls, too. Not sure who to ask for when the line picked up. Only knowing even as an 8-year-old, she was his charge, this Queen of Kings Island.

And he had to try. He had to talk to anyone who would listen.

Soon enough, Mills traded his notebook paper for a laptop. He furiously typed emails to Kings Island employees requesting to see her. Just to see her. To help her get better so she could come out of storage and rejoin the carousel riders. That’s all.

It took nine years for her to return to her throne. Nine years for him to be able to meet the rare and remarkable Wurlitzer 157 band organ that reigns at the Mason amusement park’s carousel.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015 10:25 AM
Jeff's avatar

This piece is a little too touchy feely, but it's definitely a good story, and I hope that more places do their best to preserve these band organs (I'm looking at you, Cedar Point).

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 11:37 AM

I know the young man in the article, he reminds me of myself at that age. Those of us that are acquainted with him know that CP is his next "target".

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 1:04 PM

It was great that it was working on our last visit.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 2:03 PM

I love rollercoasters, but inevitably, I almost always ride the carousel as well at every park. And it does really stand out if there is a true band organ playing.

That being said, I am also glad to see CP seems to be invigorating the area around Cedar Downs, so I don't anticipate that going anywhere else any time soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 3:32 PM
LostKause's avatar

The band organ is why I love carousels in the first place. If it only plays a recording, I'm not interested in it at all. The real music makes me so happy for some reason.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 3:57 PM

Band organs are nice, and their scarcity is disheartening for carousel and park enthusiasts. This article is encouraging, though, and it's nice to know there's a young man out there that has taken interest. Hopefully, for us, it will be a life-long pursuit.

However, for me, the absence of an authentic band organ is not a reason to disregard or fail to appreciate and admire the carvings and trappings on an antique machine. There's the art.
I always photograph, ride, look into it's history, and enjoy every minute of it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 5:55 PM

When it's a stand alone business (not in an amusement park) the band organ increases the rider count. I worked the machine in Balboa Park this summer, and it has both a sound system and the original North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works organ it came with. We'd rotate out which music source through out the day. Every time we switched to the organ the people would come out of the woodwork..When we weren't playing it we'd get requests to hear it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 7:01 PM
rollergator's avatar

Band organ = instant charm.

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 9:12 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

So what would happen if you had a band organ playing in a shady stand of trees?

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 9:34 PM

When you have several of them in a shady grove of trees it's called a band organ rally.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 10:08 PM

Maybe not quite as charming, but I like Battle of the Band Organs.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 11:58 PM
birdhombre's avatar

I think part of the difference is that sound systems are often inadequate. You don't get the booming of the drums and the flutey howl of the organ pipes in the same way, certainly not without a subwoofer. Catching a glimpse of the band organ on each go-round, with all the instruments visibly playing, is part of the fun too. If there isn't a real band organ, there's not really any reason to use band organ music; you could play anything, although it would feel weird.

Which is a convenient segue for: I hate the music they play on Cedar Downs now. It sounds exceedingly modern, like an ESPN promo. I preferred when it was a recording of an old-timey announcer calling the race. The music just sounds really out of place for a ride with such a classic look.

Friday, September 11, 2015 12:09 AM

I concur, birdhombre. The cheesy track on Cedar Downs has to go.

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Sunday, September 13, 2015 12:06 AM

"All the horses jump, no chipped paint."


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