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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Providing Joy and Connection


Arts, Culture & Humanities 


Aging/Elderly/Senior Citizens
Children and Youth (infants - 19 years)
Disabled, General or Disability unspecified
General Public/Unspecified
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged/Indigent


Located in Nederland, Colorado, the nonprofit Carousel of Happiness is a magical menagerie featuring 56 whimsical, hand-carved animals on a restored 1910 Looff carousel, turning to the music of a 1913 Wurlitzer band organ.

The Carousel opened on May 29, 2010, and has provided nearly 1 million rides to visitors from around the world. The story of the carousel and the Vietnam veteran behind it serves as an inspiration to the many visitors who visit.

As a young Marine in Vietnam, Scott had received a gift of a small music box, which he held to his ear to distract him from the horror of the war going on around him. The music brought him a peaceful image of a carousel in a mountain meadow. After returning from the war, he rescued an abandoned carousel in Utah and spent the next 26 years hand-carving animals to bring it back to life.

The antique carousel provides a cultural opportunity around the historically popular amusement park ride, and is a source of pure joy to people of all ages and abilities.

With its affordable ride price, the Carousel is accessible to the vast majority of visitors and families. However, free rides are provided to people in need and in special circumstances, including those participating in senior programs, Alzheimer patients, people with autism and developmental disabilities, and children in after-school and YMCA programs. The Carousel also has a ramp for riders who use wheelchairs.

In addition to the main attraction, the Carousel offers a DIY puppet theatre and a storytelling booth with professional recording equipment for visitors who wish to record their own stories for future generations to hear.


Evidence of Program's Success

Many organizations serving seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families have visited the Carousel, bringing their clients to ride the animals over and over again. The Carousel also hosts special groups interested in hearing Scott's inspirational story about the 26 years he spent carving the animals and restoring and building the carousel. Groups that visited in 2019 include:

Acting Up Seminars
BCYC Forestry
Boulder Parks & Rec
Boy Scouts Troop 2
Boy Scouts Troop 321
Breakfast Club Front Range
Clear Creek Community Center
Clear Creek Library
Covenant Village
Denver Parks & Rec
Duncan Park Church Camp
Eastern Star of Golden
Evergreen Parks & Rec
Fruita Welcome Center
Gilpin County Youth Group
Idaho Springs Rec Center- Kids Korner
Longmont Senior Center
Manor Care - Boulder
Nederland Elementary School
Out & About
Parker Personal Care
Shiloh House
South Suburban Parks & Rec
Stellar Care
Sunrise Flatirons
The Inn Between
YMCA Denver
YMCA Northern Colorado

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.