Billed as Spokane’s most popular amusement, the venerable Looff Carrousel has been re-housed, re-painted, and re-lit with ETC gear. This 110-year-old attraction is also the newest addition to ETC’s Project Portfolio.
The carousel’s name – and its spelling – is a product of its age and pedigree. It was built and hand-carved by Charles I.D. Looff, in 1909. (He designed the first carousel at Coney Island and all of Santa Monica Pier.) The carousel was a wedding gift for his daughter and her husband in Spokane. Its new home is one of the first results of a years-long drive to restore not just the carousel, but Spokane’s Riverfront Park – and residents couldn’t be prouder.
“It’s a brand-new display case for one of Spokane’s most precious jewels,” said Leroy Eadie, former Spokane Parks Director. “It’s a beautiful building, inside and out. For the first time, each and every one of the animals is completely restored.”
Let’s get technical
The lighting for the carousel was designed by Paul Luntsford, ASTC, the president and principal consultant at PLA Designs. Christopher Ochocki, a senior consultant at PLA Designs, was the primary designer of the lighting controls and the effects lighting programmer. J.C. Wright Lighting in Spokane was the manufacturer’s rep.
The entire complex is run off an ETC Paradigm processor controlling the general architectural lighting in the carousel space, party rooms, gift shop and other support spaces. Housed in a dome, the carousel itself is lit by ETC Source Four PARs, 288 feet of linear LED strips, and automated wash fixtures. Five universes worth of effects lighting channels are controlled by a Mosaic Show Controller X, which is triggered by contact closures from the Paradigm processor that receives contact inputs from the carousel controller.
The installation was not without challenges. “Because of the architecture of the building, we had to use DIN Rail-mounted Gateways in a ceiling access panel to get DMX to the places we needed it,” said Ochocki.
Seasonal fun at Looff Carrousel
The carousel attracts huge crowds on public holidays and Ochocki made full use of Paradigm’s astronomical time clock. “In addition to designing 10 effects sequences in the dome and queueing area that are randomly triggered, we created a red, white, and blue theme for July 4th and a rainbow theme for Pride Week – we had fun with it.”
Because the space can be rented out, the design included a Paradigm 7” Touchscreen with a color picker to allow renters to choose from a range of standard colors and presets, as well as create their own custom colors for the dome and other effects lights. Finally, there are inputs for a stage lighting console to have real time control of all the fixtures in the space.
The stated goal from the City of Spokane was that the effects lighting not overshadow the carousel. Ochocki described it this way: “Looff Carrousel is the jewel, the new building is the jewelry box, and the effects lighting are the accents on the jewelry box.”
The Looff Carrousel and its sister project, the award-winning lighting of Spokane’s Riverfront Park Pavilion, are the two newest additions to ETC’s Project Portfolio. The Portfolio showcases the most impressive, boundary-pushing, and industry-defining installations ETC has been privileged to be a part of. Visitors can scroll through a photo gallery and click on whatever image strikes them to learn more about the installation, the gear involved, and the people who helped make it happen.