By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Alice is getting the star treatment at the Sea Isle City Historical Museum.
The beautifully hand-carved carousel horse, named “Alice,” survived the colossal 1962 Ash Wednesday coastal storm and remained under the care of Ann Bacon and her family for 60 years before it was donated to the museum in October.
Now, the museum is planning a formal welcome home ceremony for the horse as part of its annual holiday open house celebration on Saturday, Dec. 3.
“This year’s annual holiday celebration will also be the event that officially welcomes Alice, our carousel star, back home,” said the museum’s president, Ron Kovatis.
Visitors to the museum will be treated to complimentary refreshments and free tours during the open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The festivities will be highlighted by an official unveiling ceremony at noon to celebrate the carousel horse being put on permanent display.
Mayor Leonard Desiderio and members of City Council are among the dignitaries who have been invited to the ceremony. Members of the public will also be welcomed.
The open house traditionally serves as an old-fashioned holiday celebration that gives visitors the opportunity to experience vintage toys, games, books and other artifacts from Christmases of the past. However, the museum canceled the open house in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
This year’s open house will be a dual celebration of the holidays as well as Alice’s return to Sea Isle 60 years later, Kovatis said.
In 1962, Alice was one of 44 ornate horses for a popular merry-go-round at an amusement business called Marconi’s Carousel on Sea Isle’s old Boardwalk.
The epic Ash Wednesday storm destroyed the Boardwalk, Marconi’s Carousel and many other Sea Isle landmarks. Ann Bacon’s late father, Edward Bacon, purchased one of the carousel horses for his daughter shortly after it was recovered from the rubble of Marconi’s Carousel.
“As we were driving around, we encountered the Boardwalk and the destroyed carousel. I said, ‘Look at those horses.’ I always wanted a hobby horse when I was a girl,” Ann Bacon, who was just 14 years old during the 1962 storm, recalled in an October interview with SeaIsleNews.com. Sea Isle Storm Survivor Comes Home, 60 Years Later | Sea Isle News
Ann Bacon would later name the horse Alice in memory of her beloved late aunt, Alice Bacon. Over the years, she kept the horse with her when she lived in Bucks County, Pa., and then in Maine. Most recently, she had it in her house in Chestnut Hill, Pa, before donating it to the museum.
Standing about 4½ feet high and 5 feet long, the wood horse includes a beautifully sculpted mane, leather stirrups, life-like glass eyes and the image of an eagle carved into the saddle.
It was carved by the famed Philadelphia craftsmen and carousel makers, Gustav Dentzel and his son, William, in 1905, Ann Bacon said.
At one point, Bacon had the old layers of paint removed from the horse. A woodworker in Maine also patched the horse for her to repair some damage. Bacon explained that she did not have the horse restored because she wanted to keep it “historically pure.”
Kovatis said in an October interview that there are no plans by the museum to undertake a restoration. He believes a restoration would rob the horse of its historic significance.
“If we restore it, it would destroy the historical value. This is what survived the storm and the 60 years that followed,” Kovatis said, noting the horse’s current condition and its faded paint. “This is history. This is the wear and tear of the storm and its survival. This is aging.”
The Sea Isle City Historical Museum is located inside the Sea Isle City Library at 4800 Central Ave. For more information, visit seaislemuseum.com
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