SEASIDE HEIGHTS - A part of Jersey Shore history is going up for sale.
Casino Pier in Seaside Heights is selling its antique carousel at auction.
The ornate 1910 Dentzel carousel survived Superstorm Sandy and the boardwalk blaze a year later, but may now be lost to changing times in the amusement industry.
Maria Mastoris is the spokesperson for the Storino family, who owns Casino Pier and amusements in Point Pleasant Beach. She says the carousel is too expensive to insure and maintain, and it's not as popular as it used to be. "Ridership has very much declined. This generation, they love the thrill rides," she says.
The company is auctioning off the antique merry-go-round this fall and is hoping it will be sold as a whole. "If this were a car, it would be a Rolls Royce," says the president of Guernsey's Auctioneers, Arlan Ettinger. "It's a true national treasure."
Ettinger says the 58 wood figures were hand-carved and hand-painted by a Philadelphia family. The detail work is superior to modern reproductions made with moldings.
Each animal has a name painted on it, which is another unique feature. A Wurlitzer organ at the center plays music instead of a recording.
Don Mazzella worked on the boardwalk as a kid. "It's unfortunate, but I guess kids want more these days than a merry-go-round," he says. "We're kinda sad."
If the carousel is not sold in its entirety, the owners say they'll be forced to sell the parts separately.
The carousel has been in Seaside Heights for 82 years. The auction house says bidding will start at about $3 million.