Nederland, just 17 miles west of Boulder, retains a reputation for being a hippie town, thanks in part to such well-known, offbeat annual events as the jam-friendly music festival NedFest, happening Aug. 28-29, and winter’s wacky Frozen Dead Guy Days.
But today at 10 a.m., Nederland launches into a new era of being not just a hippie town, but a happy town, too. That’s when the Carousel of Happiness starts to turn, the calliope begins to play, and the face of this community breaks into a smile.
In 1985, Scott Harrison, a Nederland resident, began carving and handpainting carousel animals, and a year later, bought and set about restoring the workings of an old merry-go-round that long ago graced the Saltair amusement park near Salt Lake City.
Since then, with determination, inspiration and idealism, Harrison kept carving and painting animals, restoring the mechanism, and building an energy-smart, 12-sided structure to house it. Over the years, Harrison’s dream became Nederland’s dream. A cadre of dedicated local volunteers joined him to help the project along, investing both sweat equity and financial support.
Why a carousel? When Harrison was in Vietnam with the Marine Corps, his sister sent him a small music box that played Chopin. He has since sought to make the world a more peaceful place. In 1975, against all odds, he and his wife, Ellen Moore, founded and co-directed Amnesty International’s Urgent Action Network to respond to genocides and other human crises around the globe. It now has tens of thousands of members worldwide.
Nederland artist George Blevins, whose angels decorate the carousel house, says of his friend’s upbeat project: “The carousel is one more insane dream in a crazy world. Now let’s finish this and do world peace.”
The Carousel of Happiness provides a new reason to visit this laid-back mountain community with a compact, walk-around downtown. Every one of the roughly 1,500 residents seems to know every other local in this friendly place that time forgot. Visitors can park their vehicles and wander around exploring shops and galleries, and having a remarkable choice of places to eat and relax.
1. Ben’s High Country Emporium
This new-for-Ned store on the east approach to downtown stocks all sorts of items for being