Carousel of Happiness

The Carousel inspires happiness and well-being as a piece of a living folk art. With 57 whimsical, hand-carved animals atop a 1910 carousel, the COH attracts people of all ages and abilities. Donations help to keep the carousel accessible to all, while creating happiness and joy for those who visit.

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General Information

Official Name
Carousel of Happiness Inc​​​​​​​
DBA/Trade Name(s)
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Date Established
Offers Additional Colorado State Tax Credit
Tax ID
Headquarters Address
20 Lakeview Drive
PO Box 1811
Nederland, CO 80466
Colorado Location
Mailing Address
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Social Media Links

Mission Statement

Inspiring happiness, well-being, and service to others through stories and experiences.

Organization History

The story of the Carousel of Happiness is the story of a young Marine, a derelict carousel and the small mountain town of Nederland. As a young Marine in Vietnam, Scott Harrison received a gift of a small music box, which he held to his ear to distract him from the horror of the war around him. The music brought him a peaceful image of a carousel in a mountain meadow.

Decades later, Scott rescued an abandoned 1910 carousel originally designed by the American carousel architect, Charles Looff, in Utah. He spent the next 26 years carving a new set of animals to bring it back to life. Amazingly, he had never carved before.

As he finished the last of the animals, the small community of Nederland (pop. 1,500) came together and raised the $700,000 to build it a home. Scott still lives in Nederland; he helps with carousel maintenance and occasionally serves as a guest operator. "I love coming to the carousel and seeing all ages of people enjoying the ride and finding little things that interest them on the carousel and in the building. I am overwhelmed, in a good way, by the great comments and hugs I get when I visit. My happiness is to be alive to see what this means to so many."

The Carousel of Happiness and its unique 12-sided building has become a destination for many individuals and groups as a place to lift one's spirits and forget life's troubles. Families come to enjoy some simple fun by riding and putting on puppet shows and connecting with one another in a creative environment. There is now a storytelling booth in the building as well, where visitors can record their own stories on a computer thumb drive for future generations to hear.


"The Carousel staff is always super nice and accommodating to everyone in our group! It's so great how the actual carousel is accessible and the participants who utilize wheelchairs are able to ride with everyone else. Our large group can be loud and little overwhelming for some venues, but the Carousel staff are always smiling and appear to genuinely enjoy when we visit. They also let our group ride as much as they wanted for a very discounted price, which is always appreciated! When we visited the Carousel over Spring Break, the man running the carousel walked around while the kids were loading up and let them talk into the microphone; they just thought that was the coolest!" -- Instructors/Staff, Out & About Therapeutic Recreation - A Division of Imagine!

"What a wonderful time Henry had at the 'Carousel of Happiness' -- feeling all of the animals, the levers that made the turntable go round and round, the switches in the mechanical closet in the entry way, and even feeling the face of Scott, the restorer of the carousal. Henry loved 'listening' to the stories 'spoken' into his hands by a sign language interpreter, about the rebuilding of the carousel, and he especially enjoyed the personal tour that Scott gave him after the other Deaf people in the group had left. You see, Henry is Deafblind. He used to work for the federal government as an engineer when he was only Deaf, and now that he is Deafblind, his world has narrowed considerably. Henry will never forget his hour at the carousel, nor the wonderful attention and kindness shown to him by Scott." -- Barb Coffan, Director of Deaf Ministry, East Boulder Baptist Church

"Our organization has followed this unique carousel project as it progressed through the years. It is a perfect example of why antique carousels should be preserved and new ones created. The benefits will be seen on the faces of the visitors, whether they come to ride or learn, and whether they be young or old." -- Bette L. Largent, Past President, National Carousel Organization

"The Carousel of Happiness has become a regular stop for travelers along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway and brings visitors to Nederland from across the United States. It is inspiring to see this work of art -- the realization of one man's vision and an example of community support. The Town of Nederland is grateful to host such a gem." -- Joe Geirlach, Past Mayor of Nederland

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.