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This concept image shows what Davenport Park,near San Carlos and San Marco avenues could look like once the new carousel is installed. | St. Augustine.

St. Augustine OKs Davenport Park carousel

Published on May 13, 2024 at 10:04 pm

It’s been five years since the much-loved carousel at Davenport Park — known to many as Carousel Park — in St. Augustine shut down after decades in operation. But following a decision Monday night by the St. Augustine Commission, a new carousel could be up and turning as soon as July. 

The new carousel is a passion project for Jacksonville resident J.W. Brinkley, who will pay the city 15% of the revenue from riders. He’s wanted to bring a carousel back to the park ever since the old one was moved when its proprietor died in 2019.

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With his lease now approved, Brinkley said the next steps include building a fence at the park and installing pavers and a ticket booth along with the carousel. Once the carousel arrives from China, where it’s being built, Brinkley said he and his team can hit the ground running. When Jacksonville Today asked him about the cost of admission at a recent city committee meeting, he declined to specify an exact amount.

As part of his lease agreement, Brinkley will also install and maintain two ATMs, one at the visitors’ center parking garage and one at the municipal marina.

The new carousel will be state-of-the-art, with LED lights and full Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, he said.

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Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline said she can’t wait.

“I think we’ve really missed it a lot,” she said. “My children grew up playing on the carousel. It’s just going to be very wonderful to see many families into the future will be able to continue to visit the park and have this extra delight and opportunity to spend time together and make memories.” 

It’s a family affair for him, too, Brinkley said. 

His children and grandson are involved in the project to ensure the carousel will outlive him, and Brinkley even brought his wife’s ashes with him to the May 13 meeting. Judy Brinkley, who died last summer, loved the carousel, Brinkley said, and he had hoped she would live long enough to see the new carousel installed.

The City Commission unanimously approved Brinkley’s plan with a few alterations, like asking him to keep the carousel’s lights a nice, warm yellow and to not sell concessions at the ticket booth.

Brinkley estimates he will be operating the merry-go-round in roughly eight weeks.


author image Reporter Noah Hertz is a Jacksonville Today reporter focusing on St. Johns County. From Central Florida, Noah got his start as an intern at WFSU, Tallahassee’s public radio station, and as a reporter at The Wakulla News. He went on to work for three years as a general assignment reporter and editor for The West Volusia Beacon in his hometown, DeLand.
author image Reporter Noah Hertz is a Jacksonville Today reporter focusing on St. Johns County. From Central Florida, Noah got his start as an intern at WFSU, Tallahassee’s public radio station, and as a reporter at The Wakulla News. He went on to work for three years as a general assignment reporter and editor for The West Volusia Beacon in his hometown, DeLand.

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