It was opening day at the Flying Horses Carousel and Helena Penn, age 11, called her three rides “awesome.”

“I love the rings and how you can get a free ride,” the young Bostonian said. “It’s so like, old.”

It is old. Originally built in 1876, it’s the oldest continually operating carousel in the country. Helena has been to the Flying Horses before, and said she likes to make up names for each of the meticulously restored horses she rides.

Oldest continuously operating carousel on the country spins again, marking a new season on the VIneyard. — Maria Thibodeau

“I had Sprinkles, Brownie, and Blondie,” she said. Two of the names have obvious origins. As to the third: “I just like sprinkles.”

Helena and her younger brother and her older brother all managed to secure the coveted bronze ring Saturday morning, earning a free ride. Her little brother waved it at their parents with glee.

The Penns were among a small crowd of children and parents who made the trip on a rainy Saturday morning, baby carriers and umbrellas in tow. As the 1923 Wurlitzer Band Organ played, the beloved family tradition picked up where it left off last year. Fathers took videos on their cell phones. Children ate popcorn by the fistful.

Longtime carousel manager Robin Meader said the rain and clouds didn’t dampen the opening day excitement.

“Right when we opened the door there were people already waiting,” she said. “It felt good.”

Jon Hartzband of West Tisbury held a giant bag of popcorn as he watched his two children, his wife, and his two nieces whiz by. He said his daughter Fiona was especially excited for opening day.

“My five-year-old loves it. It’s like her favorite thing to do every spring,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place.”

More pictures.