The carousel goes round and round.

Time seems to slow and become a blur of images as a lifetime of memories pass by when you are on one.

Childhood memories of your first ride without mom or dad standing nearby to catch you should you fall. Memories of standing close, but not too close, ready to catch your own child.

No matter your age, it is hard not to feel like a kid again and get lost in time when the brass bell rings to start the ride and organ music of a bygone era fills the air.

Akron has long had a love affair with carousels, from the long-gone Philadelphia Toboggan Co. Carousel No. 15 that once called the old Summit Beach Park home, to a relatively new one at the Akron Zoo that is delighting a whole new generation.

We are fortunate to have four carousels within a short driving distance, from the Akron Zoo to the Cleveland Zoo to Memphis Kiddie Park and Euclid Beach Park.

And not too far to the south is the Carousel Works in Mansfield, where you can watch artists carve new carousels or restore old ones to their former glory. This is where both the carousels at the Akron and Cleveland zoos were born and the Euclid Beach Carousel was given new life.

Further west in Sandusky, where Cedar Point is home to three carousels, is a museum dedicated to the rides that were once a staple at tiny neighborhood amusement parks and county fairs. The museum, tucked inside a stately former post office in downtown Sandusky, is home to five carousel horses that have graced collectible U.S. postage stamps and even decorated the White House at Christmas.

The museum’s Bonnie Behm said that early carousels in this country had a military purpose. The Army used primitive horses on a spinning platform that turned to teach young recruits how to stay on a horse. And when the rides eventually made their way to county fairs, Behm said, the carnies would bring two.

One would feature horses that went round and round for the kids to ride on. Another, for the adults, would have a spinning platform with horses that went up and down.

As rides became more daring and the riders more brave, Behm said, the traditional carousel we see today was born that has a combination of horses that go up and down and some that are stationary.

Behm said a trick to know whether a horse will go up and down before you climb aboard and can see the inner mechanisms above is to look at the animal’s feet. If any part of a hoof is touching the ground, then you know it will not go up and down.

Another fun trick to pass the time while in line, she said, is to look for the carousel’s so-called lead horse.

Long before timers or automatic electronics, the ride operator would watch for the lead horse to pass to keep track of the number of revolutions and when it was time to pull the brake and to ring the bell to stop it and shoo riders off.

The lead horse is typically bigger than the rest or has some dramatic features like armor or special colors. At the Sandusky museum, the lead horse on its resident carousel is a so-called Stargazer horse that is looking up at the heavens. And unlike most carousels that spin at a leisurely 3 miles per hour, the Merry-Go-Round Museum’s ride platform spins at a brisk 9 mph.

Behm said she rarely encounters a grumpy visitor at the museum.

“This is happiness,” she said. “There’s happy music. This is something everyone enjoys. There’s never unhappy people.”

Akron Zoo

The effort to bring the Conservation Carousel to the Akron Zoo in 2010 was spurred by a community fund-raising project.

Each animal has a plaque by it noting who donated the money to buy each one. Built by the Carousel Works in Mansfield, the ride boasts a continental theme with some 33 animals calling it home. There are also several unusual animals found on the carousel, including a parrot, a baby moose and a wolf cub. A large map by the carousel shows where each of the animals can be found in the wild.

Year built: 2010

Manufacturer: The Carousel Works in Mansfield.

Number: 33 animals and one chariot.

Admission: Adult admission to the zoo (500 Edgewood Ave., Akron) is $12; $9 for kids. Carousel tickets are $2.

Fun fact: The animals found on the carousel represent seven continents, and all are considered endangered.

Cleveland Zoo

The Circle of Wildlife Carousel is the largest in Northeast Ohio. It boasts 64 different animals, including eight custom animals that don’t appear on any other carousel built by the Carousel Works. They include: an Anatolian shepherd, a lynx, an ocelot, a ring-tailed lemur, a loris, an emperor penguin, a cardinal tetra fish, and a fossa (a cat-like mammal).

Year built: 2014

Manufacturer: The Carousel Works in Mansfield.

Number: 64 animals and two chariots.

Admission: Adult admission to the zoo (3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland) is $14.25; $10.25 for kids. Carousel tickets are $3.

Fun fact: The animals are grouped together based on their natural environment from the African grassland to a tropical forest to the tundra.

Euclid Beach Park

The Grand Carousel is the granddaddy of all the carousels in Northeast Ohio. It has been painstakingly restored to its original glory and has a permanent home in a glass-enclosed corner of the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Cleveland History Center.

Built in 1910, the carousel, with its hand-carved horses, delighted generations of Clevelanders until Euclid Beach closed in 1969. It was purchased by Palace Playland in Maine and remained there until that park closed in 1996.

Year built: 1910

Manufacturer: Philadelphia Toboggan Co.

Number: 58 horses and two chariots.

Admission: A carousel ride is included with admission to the Western Reserve Historical Society’s museum (10825 East Blvd., Cleveland). $10 for adults; $9 for seniors; $5 for children.

Fun fact: Be sure to look at the hand-painted lower panels on the inside of the carousel that recall bygone rides from the former amusement park.

Memphis Kiddie Park

This tiny amusement park — there are only 11 kiddie rides — is home to another notable “old-time” carousel. It is the smallest of the four carousels in Northeast Ohio, but is certainly near and dear to generations of riders.

The Allan Herschell-built carousel, from the 1950s, is the first ride visitors encounter when they walk into the park along Memphis Road — not far from the Cleveland Zoo.

What makes the ride special, along with all the pint-size rides, is the fact they all date back to when Memphis Kiddie Park opened in 1952.

The park is like walking back in time. The carousel was restored over the past season so its horses are sporting a fresh coat of paint.

Year built: 1952

Manufacturer: Allan Herschell

Number: 30 horses and two chariots.

Admission: It is free to walk around the park (10340 Memphis Ave., Cleveland). Each ride costs $2.40 each. Discounts available when buying larger quantities of tickets.

Fun fact: All the horses have names on them in honor of park employees or family members of the owners.

Craig Webb, who likes to ride on the outside of a carousel, can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3547.