The Flying Horses carousel opened its 143rd season on Saturday, but inside the wooden structure, all those years seemed to blend together. Just as they have for more than a century, hundreds of kids and parents flocked to the carousel to wait in line, choose a horse, and reach for the coveted brass ring that allows for an extra ride free of charge.

Adults looked on as their children whizzed by, the 1923 Wurlitzer Band Organ playing its familiar tune.

“I must have been five or six the first time I remember riding it,” said Inger Arnott as she watched her two daughters, Emma and Anna, go around. Ms. Arnott grew up on the Island, but moved to the mainland after high school. She and her family come back to visit her parents and ride the carousel every year. “I think my grandparents rode it too,” she said.

Wide eyed with wonder. — Maria Thibodeau

Anna, age 9, is developing a strategy.

“I like the inside horses,” she said, referring to the horses closest to the center. “I just like to hold onto the pole with my left arm and reach out with my right.” Her older sister Emma, age 12, had mastered the multi-ring method, pulling three or four with each pass.

Ms. Arnott said when they were babies, the girls sat with her or their father on one of the seats. As they got bigger, they graduated to small horses with a parent standing by. Now they ride all by themselves, over and over again.

Robin Meader has managed the carousel for more than 30 years. She’s familiar with the time machine effect.

“I’ve had kids who worked for me in high school coming in with their own children,” she said between popcorn orders.

Arcade brings its own special pleasures. — Maria Thibodeau

The Flying Horses is the oldest continually operating platform carousel in the country, built in 1876. In 1884, it was moved to Oak Bluffs from Coney Island. Since 1986, it has been owned and maintained by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust. It has been designated as a national landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“It’s part of our history,” Ms. Meader said. She knows better than anyone that opening day is something children look forward to all year.

“I tell children that the horses went to sleep for the winter, and they come up and ask me to wake them up again,” she said.

More photos from opening day at the Flying Horses Carousel.