Carousel of Happiness

A nonprofit organization

$19,287 raised

100% complete

$15,000 Goal

The Carousel of Happiness is on a mission to inspire happiness, well-being, and service to others through stories and experiences.

With 57 whimsical, hand-carved animals atop a 1910 carousel, spinning to the music of a 1913 Wurlitzer band organ, we are a piece of living folk art.  The Carousel of Happiness attracts people of all ages and abilities. Since our opening in 2010, we've given over 10,000 free rides and sold 1,000,000 tickets, as well as welcomed over 200 different groups and utilized tens of thousands of volunteer hours.

Thank You for your support!  Tens of thousands of hours worked by volunteers.  Over 1 Million Carousel Ride Tickets Sold.  Over 10,000 Free Rides Given.  Over 200 Groups Served.

Use the links below to learn more about Scott and the amazing and unique story of the Carousel of Happiness...

Atlas Obscura article and short video

Voyage Denver article "Hidden Gems: Meet Scott Harrison"

"Carving Joy" documentary ($10 rental on Vimeo; proceeds support the carousel!)

A fun way to keep the carousel spinning is to Adopt a Part of the Carousel!

Donations help to keep our century-old mechanism well-maintained and accessible to all, while creating happiness and joy for those who visit.

The Carousel of Happiness envisions being a welcoming and inclusive hub of positivity.  The building and carousel ride are ADA-accessible.  We also have headphones available upon request for sensitive ears.  Service animals are allowed to assist their human as needed, while following our safety protocols.  We welcome all to hear our story, experience a bit of historical "Americana," and to make memories and stories of their own, regardless of their background (ethnic, economic, religious, cultural, gender/orientation, or other).

With a gift of $150 or more, you will receive your own personal carving by Scott Harrison.  These birds are carved by hand, painted, then sanded to show the wear and tear of life.  They can be displayed on a shelf, or take off their stand to hold in your hand.  They are a special token of appreciation for your support!

Giving Activity


Our mission is to inspire happiness, well-being, and service to others through stories and experiences.

Background Statement

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," he said. "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. We've given over a million rides since opening in 2010, and look forward to a million more with your support!

Organization Data


Organization name

Carousel of Happiness

other names


Year Established


Tax id (EIN)



Arts, Culture & Humanities

Organization Size

Medium Organization


20 Lakeview Drive PO Box 1811
Nederland, CO 80466

Service areas

Boulder County, CO, US

Denver, CO, US

Gilpin County, CO, US

Broomfield County, CO, US

Jefferson County, CO, US



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