Jim Soules, owner of the iconic carousel in St. Augustine, passed away unexpectedly Sept. 6. The family has expressed that Sunday would be the last day of operation, and the carousel would be dismantled Monday. The closing date has not been confirmed.
City Manager John Regan let the family know the City was interested in retaining the carousel at the Davenport Park site on San Marco Avenue.
Thursday, Regan posted an update on the City's Facebook page.
"On Wednesday, Mrs. Soules informed me that their final decision is to stay with the relocation plan and that she appreciated our desire to keep the carousel in St Augustine," Regan stated. "She said she needs to follow through on Jim's (deceased husband) wishes to bring the carousel to Port Charlotte, which is their home.
"We thank the Soules family for the 20 years of joy, happiness and memories they made possible and hope it will continue to brighten lives wherever it is located in the future. Also, they are always welcome to return to St. Augustine in the future. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and we wish her and her family the best," the post concluded.
St. Augustine residents Beth and Phillip Sullivan heard the news from a coworker who saw the announcement on Facebook Tuesday, Sept. 10. Since the couple had plans to be out of town for the weekend, they decided to take their youngest grandchild for his first, and maybe last, ride Tuesday evening. Cameron is just 15 months old.
The Sullivans have five more “grands” from age 15 down to 5 years old.
“All of them have always come here,” Beth Sullivan said. “I hope it doesn’t close.”
The City of St. Augustine has expressed interest in the carousel’s continued operation. In a Facebook post Tuesday, City Manager John Regan stated, “The family is aware of options for their legacy to continue and are deeply appreciative of the city and all of the love and outpouring of support from the community.”