When CoVID-19 forced a shutdown of all venues in Griffith Park – including the Autry, LA Zoo, Griffith Observatory, Greek Theatre, etc. – I contacted Julio Gosdinksi, the owner/manager of the Griffith Park Merry-go-Round to talk about the long-term ramifications. We met at the ride to share a meal (distanced across a picnic table) and he showed me the steps being taken to ensure kids would be safe on the ride once the merry-go-round reopened.
It’s now nearly 2021, and unfortunately many Park venues are still closed to the public, although some are finally reopening; the LA Zoo, for instance, requires guests to wear masks and practice social distancing.
As Los Angeles begins to emerge from a long Rip Van Winkle sleep and moves into less stringent safety restrictions, the Griffith Park Merry-go-Round will remain shuttered; the future of this iconic family-friendly attraction is in jeopardy.
For the past nine years, Julio was instrumental in keeping this historic 1920s-era art piece in top working condition. Maintenance was never easy, especially on the 68 wooden horses and complicated mechanism that kept the painted ponies moving up and down while spinning guests gently around in the lush Griffith Park greenery.
An employee since he was a teenager, Julio was handed co-ownership of the ride in 2011, a responsibility he took seriously and to heart. The Griffith Park Merry-go-Round has delighted families, first dates and grandparents for decades. Julio knew that and always welcomed everyone with a big smile.
When Julio suddenly passed away in early August, the fate of his and OUR beloved Merry-go-Round entered into limbo.
One thing is abundantly clear – the Griffith Park Merry-go-Round is an important feature of Griffith Park, one that brings visitors from around the world just to take a ride and pose for a photo. Now, LA Recreation and Parks must decide how to keep this carousel in the Park, especially now that Julio’s smiling face and generous nature will be missing.
~Kathryn Louyse, FoGP Board member