SARANAC LAKE-As they marched from the Adirondack Community Action Programs Head Start to the site of the soon-to-be Adirondack Carousel, Marge Glowa called the group of students "our contractors of the future."
The class of 3- and 4-year-old children were the official groundbreakers for the Carousel, which also included the unveiling of the new red squirrel and toad wildlife carvings.
"This is a project that is going to be built by community hands," Glowa said.
Project treasurer Harry Stewart said that the carousel would be something that children today would remember as fondly as he remembered his childhood in Saranac Lake.
"My class is celebrating our 50th anniversary coming up, and we all have our memories of growing up here," Stewart said. "This will be a memory that these children will have 50 years from now as they remember the rides and fun that they will have here."
Karen Loffler, who came up with the idea for the carousel, said that she was happy that there were a number of children and members of the community who attended to see the first steps of her dream become a reality.
"It is wonderful to see people out supporting this," Loffler said. "To see this community support lets me know that this is going to become part of the community, and I am so excited to see the little kids with their shovels breaking the ground for it."
Saranac Lake director of community development Jeremy Evans said that he knows of a couple people who are very excited to see the project take shape.
"I can't wait to see it up and opened," Evans said, "and my children really can't wait to see it opening."
Along with the groundbreaking, Adirondack Carousel organizers also unveiled the Red Squirrel, which was sponsored by the Saranac Lake High School Class of 1961, and carved and painted by Tom Holzinger of Roanoke, Ind., who also carved the Carousel's skunk.
The toad was carved by retired Beekmantown art teacher Jack Barrette, and houses a time capsule.
According to Adirondack Carousel organizers, the project is being funded by private donations, including nearly $100,000 of in-kind services and donated construction materials; more than $300,000 in donated Carousel figures; a $340,000 grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; a bridge loan from NBT Bank; and a $20,000 grant from state Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury).
To view the Carousel's progress and photos of the custom designed wildlife figures that have been hand carved and painted by volunteers, visit www.adirondackcarousel.org or become a Facebook friend.