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The Heritage Carousel of Des Moines is one of a small number of wood carousels constructed since the 1930s. It has been built and crafted in a traditional manner that would capture the traditional feel and sound. The carousel is made of wood. It is a menagerie carousel that spans thirty-seven feet and has three rows. It is also equipped with a Stinson band organ. The carousel features thirty animals and two chariots, and it can seat up to thirty-five riders. Everyone is welcome to ride on the carousel as it is handicap accessible, with the two chariots built big enough for an adult or youth wheelchair to fit in.

The Heritage Carousel features twelve kinds of hand-carved animals. These include a tiger, stork, zebra, baby elephant, honey bear, pirate cat, giraffe, panda, sea urchin, an ostrich, horses, and rabbits. Every wooden figure is carved, primed, and painted manually. All figures are coated eight times with clear enamel to shield the paint from wear and tear.

The Heritage Carousel roughly weighs thirty-two thousand pounds. It is built from more than fifteen tons of wood, wires, and iron gears by Carousel Works Inc., a company from Mansfield, Ohio, that is renowned for crafting wooden carousels. The original construction cost nearly $300,000, an amount that the Des Moines Carousel Foundation raised privately.

The Heritage Carousel features scenes in and around Des Moines. Some of the scenes are of Old Main at Drake University, the Botanical Center, the Victoria Hotel, Terrace Hill, and Salisbury House.
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