Carnival, Governors Island, NYC

Cotton Candy and Carousels

Gracefully galloping, always poised in perfect pose. Side-saddle or straddled, taking control of the reins or waving gracefully at passerby. The gentle tinkling of music plays softly, the wind blows through your hair. The smell of sugar and the sound of laughter is in the air. . . la vie est parfaite!

Governors Island, just half a mile off of South Ferry, has many wonderful sights to keep you entertained for the day. A military base for the US Army and Coast Guard for nearly two centuries (so yes, almost 200 years!), 150 acres were given to both the city of New York as well as the state, while the rest (just over 20 acres) was preserved as a national monument. From the ‘castle’ of the military fort, (used to both hold prisoners and look out for intruders trying to make their way to land), to the antique (but still functioning) French Carousels surrounded by classic Colonial houses, magic and imagination runs wild.


One of the many beautiful carousels on display.

While the ‘castle’ and other military buildings were quite fascinating, I’m not going to lie – my focus at Governors Island was Fete Paradiso, the French Carnival. Restored carnival rides and games from as early as 1850 twirled and danced. A woman in 1930s clothing (think classy french pin-up) sat elegantly side-saddled upon a beautiful white mare while another sung seductive French jazz on the pavilion. Children danced and giggled – almost as loud as the adults accompanying them! With the bistro lights hung overhead it was truly a trip back in time.

While I did not ride any of the carousels myself (my husband wasn’t ready to stand in line, obviously I hadn’t gotten his imagination prepared well enough), there was one other carnival staple I was sure to not leave without. So my husband and sister-in-law headed to the wine bar while I waited patiently, bouncing like any child might, for freshly spun cotton candy! Sugary and sticky, I feel it is a necessary indulgence if you are going to go to a carnival. Who doesn’t enjoy being a big little kid sometimes?

This island definitely is going to need another tour, and not just for the carousel ride I’m going to take. But for trip #1, it has definitely caught my interest. New York City, you continue to impress. Now excuse me while I go wash the sugary-spun sweetness from my face.

cotton candy

Au revoir.


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