Photo of Carousel horse named Zonta in Missoula, MT

Weekly Gem #204 Red Ribbons and Friends

Published 7/20/2019

Location: This Weekly Gem is located at the intersection South Ryman Street and the Clark Fork River, in Missoula, MT (see the Clue Me! Map). Here you can enjoy many pieces of public art, a little history thrown in, and keep the kids entertained for hours.

A Carousel for Missoula is an old-time carousel with hand-carved ponies and other critters. It opened in 1995, built using an antique structure and motor (over 16,000 pieces were restored and assembled), but using newly carved ponies. Each pony was ‘adopted’ by a family or group that put up the money for carving (which took between 400 to 800 hours per animal). The adopting group then had the opportunity to create designs that incorporated details that were meaningful to them.

“Red Ribbons,” for example, harkens back to the early days of Missoula. The town was still small in 1870, but needed a newspaper. Therefore needed a printing press. The newspaper’s founders went to Helena to get a printing press. This was a trip of several days, arriving back in Missoula with horse, wagon, and drivers hot, sweaty, and coated with dust. How to make an appropriate entrance? They stopped just out of town, spruced up a bit, and tied red ribbons onto their horse. Now we’re ready! Let’s go!

Each animal has its story, which makes visiting and getting to know them all the more enjoyable. If you go, you might take an extra moment to pat Seattle Sue and Horse.


Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.


I carry my corn with me


Carousel horse named Zonta

Why It's Interesting

This horse was the first one carved by Chuck Kaparich, the founder of the Missoula carousel. He was a complete novice, and didn't realize you had to sharpen your carving tools before using them. As a result, this first pony has a somewhat blocky appearance, having been carved with a bit more brute force, and a bit less finesse, than the other ponies.

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