Two of my virtual friends Katrin and Karen recently shared their trip to France on their blogs and it brought back so many wonderful memories of my visits over the years. Oh how I adore France. In fact just a few years ago (ok, six…but whose counting) I spent my 50th birthday cycling through Bordeaux. When I read about the Fete Paradiso: A Festival of Vintage Carousels and Carnival Rides currently on display on Governors Island…well an afternoon on the island was in order!
Just a short walk from where the ferry drops you off on the island, you’ll begin to see carousel horses painted on the path leading you to the festival. It’s as if you’re drawn in…with french music piped in thru speakers cleverly positioned in the 170 year old historic trees…surrounded by old yellow Victorian homes that used to house officers when the island was a military base.
The Fête Paradiso (party of paradise) includes a variety of carnival attractions from a bygone era. Imagine flying swings and carousels, including a 19th century bicycle carousel (with bikes instead of horses—it’s one of only two in the world); as well as an early-20th century carnival game called Music-Hall Ball Guzzler, featuring caricatures of Josephine Baker, Charlie Chaplin, and other celebrities.
Well a party isn’t complete without a beer garden and French carnival-style foods as you pass away the time in the turn-of-the century bumper car pavilion… There’s so much Governors Island has to offer and so much more in the works. Oh how lucky we all are to have this at our fingertips, not to mention…FREE…even the ferry ride back and forth from Manhattan. The festival runs until the end of September compliments of two passionate French collectors of vintage carnival rides and art – Francis Staub and Regis Masclet. Keep in mind Governors Island is only open on weekends and will close as well at the end of September until next season…so you better hurry!