Vineyard Trust, which owns and operates the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluff, announced today that the historic merry-go-round will reopen for the summer season May 28 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Flying Horses also will be open May 29 and May 30 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Memorial Day from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On subsequent weekends while Island schools remain in session, hours will be Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Once school is out for the summer, the carousel will operate daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., according to the announcement, which continues:

"In order to maintain COVID-19 social distancing protocols, the carousel will have a reduced capacity and only horses wearing a mask will be available to riders, who will also be required to wear a mask. The horses will be cleaned daily and hand sanitizing stations will be available to riders."

Funi Burdick, president and CEO of Vineyard Trust, said in a statement that masks are being required because the majority of Flying Horses riders are under the age of 12, a group that has yet to have the option to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Flying Horses Carousel, which is on the National Historic Landmark registry, is the nation’s oldest platform carousel. Constructed by Charles Dare of New York Carousel Manufacturing in 1876, it is one of only two Dare carousels that still exist. 

Originally operated as an attraction on Coney Island, it was moved to Oak Bluffs in 1884 and includes stationary carved wooden horses with manes and tails of real horse hair and inset glass eyes. Each horse is brightly painted and fixed to the rotating platform by a metal post.

The carousel was acquired by Vineyard Trust in 1986 to prevent it from being dismantled and sold piecemeal to collectors of antique carved horses. The Trust undertook an extensive restoration of the Flying Horses, returning the carousel to its original appearance, complete with the historic panel paintings that were done by a Dare factory artist.

The nonprofit opted not to open the carousel in 2020 due to the pandemic.