George F. Johnson Recreation Park
In the mid-1920's, shoe manufacturer George Johnson (of Endicott-Johnson) donated no fewer than six merry-go-rounds (or carousels) to the city of Binghamton, New York. Scattered across the area in various parks, the carousels (all built by the Allan Herschell Company of North Tonawanda, New York) were to be enjoyed for free by the citizens. All six remain, and are periodically restored to keep them bright, appealing and running smoothly.
The carousel in George F. Johnson Recreation Park (located on Beethoven Street) is just three blocks away from the boyhood home of writer/television personality Rod Serling. As a youngster, Serling often visited the park, carving his initials in the Greek-style bandstand and riding the carousel. Mounting one of the ride's 60 horses, the future creator of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery must have himself been transported in his imagination to another dimension.
Years later, when writing the Twilight Zone episode Walking Distance, Serling had this exact carousel in mind when he described his protagonist's encounter with his younger self on just such a merry-go-round. Serling even specified that the carousel used in the filming resemble a 1925 Allan Herschell-carousel.
In 2007, during the 80th anniversary of Serling's birth, the carousel was designated by the city as the Walking Distance Carousel, and a plaque was installed in the floor of the nearby bandstand. Further, as plans for the carousel's most recent restoration were formulated, artist Cortlandt Hull (proprietor of the Witch's Dungeon Classic Movie Museum in Bristol, CT - see Witch's Dungeon: Classic Movie Museum) convinced the city's Parks and Recreation Department to allow him to depict Twilight Zone episodes on 11 of the 16 "rounding board" scenic panels above the prancing wooden horses. Episodes immortalized on the large wood and metal boards include Walking Distance, One For The Angels, It's A Good Life, To Serve Man, The Howling Man, Living Doll, Time Enough At Last, A Stop At Willoughby (featuring Serling himself in the artwork), and Nightmare At 20,000 Feet. The horses were meticulously restored by William R. Finkenstein, who has been restoring carousels for many years.
The carousel is open on a seasonal basis.