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PAWTUCKET â€” It's officially time to ditch the hats and mittens...the Looff Carousel in Slater Park will be opening its doors this weekend to set the spring season in motion.
According to Cindy Medeiros of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, the historic carousel will begin its weekend hours of operation this Saturday, April 6, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. From April 6 to June 30, it will be open on Saturdays and Sundays only, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. After June 30, the carousel will operate seven days a week.
This week, Parks and Recreation workers were busy sprucing up the vintage carousel, reportedly the oldest Looff â€śstander carouselâ€ť in the world. Built by pioneer craftsman Charles I.D. Looff in 1895, it was installed at Slater Park in 1910 and continues to delight visitors old and young. The ride's ornately carved figures include 44 horses, three dogs (considered a rarity), one each of a lion, camel and giraffe, and two chariots.
The charming carousel can also be rented for children's birthday parties ($95 to two hours) or for after-hours special occasions ($200 for two hours). Information about carousel events can be obtained from the Parks and Recreation office.
The carousel's opening isn't the only sign of spring vitality in the city's public park. There will be the return of big-time excitement on the pond on April 12 when BassBum's 26th Annual Kids Fishing Derby takes place. For 25 years, children up to age 14 have enjoyed this great fishing tradition. Prizes of rods and reels, along with tackle boxes, will be awarded for each of the 12 largest fish by weight in each age group.
The derby takes place from 6 a.m. to 12 noon, and registration begins at 5 a.m. The cost to enter is $2 per child. Age groups will be 7 and under, and 8 to 14. Free hot chocolate and hot dogs will be given to all contestants.
The popular paddle boats are also scheduled to return, tentatively the weekend of April 20. As with the carousel, the boat concession will be open on weekends only until June 24, when it will operate daily. The cost of a half-hour ride on an elegant swan or dragon boat is $5 per person.
Tennis, anyone? The adult summer tennis leagues start in early June at the Mike Kenny courts. Men's singles are played on Wednesday evenings and women's singles are Thursday evenings with a cost of $35 for residents and $50 for non-residents. Men's doubles are held Monday evenings and women's doubles are Tuesday evenings, at a cost of $40 for residents and $55 for non-residents.
There is also a Youth Tennis Camp offering instruction for ages 5 to 18-years-old from July 1 to Aug. 13. Registration begins Saturday, June 8 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Slater Park Office. Cost is $50 for residents and $75 for non-residents.
Co-ed singles and doubles leagues for boys and girls ages 14 to 18 are also available, as well as a newly forming U.S.T.A. Junior Team Tennis League. For more information on any of the upcoming activities in Slater Park, call the office at 728-0500, ext. 251, or visit the Parks and recreation tab on the city's website: www.pawtucketri.com. Registrations are also available on-line.
Planning a family reunion or picnic? Slater Park's picnic area is open from May 4 until Oct. 7, with permits available at the Park office. Picnic site 13 with a field costs $25 for residents and $50 for non-residents; and sites 1 through 12 cost $15 for residents and $25 for non-residents. The nearby Daggett Farm picnic area is also available for children's birthday parties, barbecues, horse shoe tournaments and other get-togethers.
Lastly, if love is in bloom, Slater Park's Marconi Garden is a gem of a site that is available for weddings and photos. Permits are available at the Park office. For weddings and photos, the cost is $40 for residents and $50 for non-residents; and for photos only, the fee is $20 for residents and $25 for non-residents.