Workmen install a chariot coach on a carousel being erected this week near the southeast corner of Beach Road and Canada St. in downtown Lake George Village. The carousel, along with its accompanying bumper-car attraction and bumper boat ride, is expected to be well-received by families seeking new activities in the resort village.
In several weeks, Lake George is likely to have a more festival-like atmosphere, due to an installation underway this week at a landmark downtown enterprise.
A colorful carousel, complete with two chariots, 30 horses, two twirling tubs and 1,200 lights, was being installed April 16 near the corner of Beach Rd. and Canada St., off the patio of a series of eateries owned by Tom Zeppieri and Theodore Cervini.
The imported Italian carousel is to be flanked by a bumper car attraction on one side and bumper boats on the other, replacing the former Putts N Prizes miniature golf course, which in recent years fell into disrepair.
The carousel is the first one installed in the village since famed theme-park developer Charlie Wood brought one to Gaslight Village many decades ago, said Luisa Craige-Sherman, director of the Lake George Business Partnership.
“This carousel is unique in the village, and it will have a broader appeal than miniature-golf, Craige-Sherman said. “Plus it adds an amazing visual element.”
She said the carousel would undoubtedly become a local landmark — in a prime downtown location.
“As a gateway block into the village center, it’s important to have something that’s so eye-catching and appealing,” she said. “And at night with all its carousel lights, it will be spectacular.”
Zeppieri said his intent was to transform the corner into a an array of attractions with broad appeal.
“We’ll be offering fun family activities,” he said of the carousel and bumper rides.
The Venetian carousel, built by Bertazzon of Italy, was formerly in use inside the Macon Mall in Macon, Ga. During a period of the mall’s decline during the national recession, the carousel was put into storage.
Aware that many successful resort towns host carousels, Zeppieri and Cervini bought the the attraction recently from the mall’s owners and brought it to Lake George.
“It’s a nice family-oriented attraction that has a broad appeal,” Zeppieri said April 16 as workmen assembled the ride.
Six days earlier, four Amish workmen built a large gazebo on site in a mere 18 hours as an enclosure to the carousel, Zeppieri added.
Overlooking the trio of amusement rides will be a patio, primarily for a new restaurant Zeppieri and Cervini are now developing in what was once was a Kentucky Fried Chicken and was last a gift shop.
The eatery, named “At the Hop,” will be a 1950s-style diner, complete with retro-jukeboxes at the tables. The partners’ mini-mall also includes an revamped amusement center with Skee-Ball and an imported interactive shooting gallery that returns blasts of water towards patrons successfully hitting targets.
The mini-mall includes a pizzeria titled “Slice” and a yet-to-be-named sandwich shop that is to occupy the storefront that hosted a Quizno’s sub shop.
Billed as the nation’s oldest golf course, the forerunner to Putts N Prizes was constructed in 1929. But Zeppieri said it hadn’t been much of an attraction in recent years.
“The golf course had outlived its usefulness,” he said. Craige-Sherman noted that it was hard for the tiny course to compete with the four or so other expansive courses nearby.
Tom and Kim Zeppieri, who hail from Rensselaer, had bought the course and the mini-mall in 1994, giving it a variety of upgrades, then selling it in 2007 to Holly Raj for $2 million. The Zeppieris own and operate an amusement and vending business that has installations across New York and Vermont.
The Holly Raj group had sought last year to convert a portion of the mini-mall into a multi-level tavern, but ran into regulatory issues and financial troubles. The Zeppieris, who were holding the mortgage in this sale, re-acquired the property in September 2011.
Lake George Village Deputy Mayor John Earl said this week that he and other village board members had seen the carousel and appreciated the improvements on the high-profile corner.
“The carousel looks really good, and it should be quite an attraction to families,” he said.