Once upon a time — 1952, to be exact — Children’s Fairyland introduced a number of rescued sea lions to the park; they lived in their own Walrus and the Carpenter set. But in 1991, when they were making too much noise during mating season, a local politician began receiving complaints from nearby apartment-dwellers. He demanded we close the set.

But what to do with the space? It sat unused until an opportunity presented itself in 2002. The Flecto Paint Company was retiring a small merry-go-round that had been only used at trade shows to demonstrate their product’s vibrant colors. Flecto offered to donate it to Fairyland, since it was just the right size for younger kids. The Lake Merritt Breakfast Club, which created Fairyland and continues to support us, jumped at the opportunity to help. The former Walrus set was determined to be the perfect spot. The club’s volunteers filled the pond, removed the carousel parts from a dozen crates and figured out how to restore all 20 horses to working order.

Now, over a decade later, the Flecto Carousel (we never got around to giving it a more fanciful name) is in need of a new paint job. It’s a real favorite with the kids, and it—like the celebrated Velveteen Rabbit—suffers from too much love.

Fairyland Development Director Cindy Sandoval had an idea. She would track down the Flecto Paint Company and ask for advice on the best weather-proof paints to bring the carousel back to life.

Sadly, she discovered that the Flecto Paint Company was no more.

She didn’t give up. Through Google, she found out that Flecto had been acquired by RPM International, an American multinational holding company with subsidiaries that manufacture and market high-performance coatings and sealants. Their popular consumer brand is Rust-Oleum. Cindy found a general mailbox address, and sent them a note.

This is usually the point at which emails are ignored and hopes are dashed, but not at Rust-Oleum Corporation. Cindy got a nearly immediate reply from Liz Krauthammer, senior brand manager of primers and specialty coatings, offering to set up a conference call with top members of their team.

On the conference call, we learned that one of Rust-Oleum’s key employees is a theme-park specialist who works with Disneyland on their carousels. What happened next will be the subject of another column. (Preview: The story includes a visit to Fairyland by the theme-park specialist.)

“I was really just fishing for some assistance and expertise,” says Cindy. “I know that a lot of people in the corporate community want to give back, so why not just ask?”

“And really,” she adds, “who doesn’t want to support the first happiest place on earth?”


Editor’s Note: This piece is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland.

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One Response

  1. Jeanie H

    Oh my gosh, you’re keeping us in suspense! When are you posting the next column??!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve waved to my children at the carousel. Curious to hear the rest!


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