Although Peggy Burris is new to the job of executive director of the Historic Albany Carousel, she isn’t a newcomer when it comes to promoting downtown Albany’s rich heritage.
From 2015-17 she was the executive director of the Albany Downtown Association and says she is happy to be back home. For the last two years, she has worked in Stayton.
“I missed the downtown,” the Albany native and 1982 South Albany graduate said. “I like being involved in the community, and working in Stayton, I haven’t been able to do that.”
Burris started work Tuesday and said she learned about the carousel position from her friend, Oscar Hult, owner of the Natty Dresser men’s shop.
Burris said she isn’t the type of person who comes into a job and makes all kinds of changes immediately, but she is a believer that while the carousel brings much joy to local residents and visitors, it is first and foremost a business, even though it has a nonprofit status.
“We have several paid employees and many volunteers,” she said. “It’s important that we keep our volunteer base up, and I want to reach out into the business community for support and partnerships. I will be making the rounds of local civic groups telling our story.”
As part of that community involvement, Burris said an area of the building is being soundproofed and fitted with modern technology so it can be used for meetings and retreats by local groups and businesses.
“I think it’s unbelievable to have something like this in our community,” Burris said. “This is a big job, but I am so excited and happy to be here.”
Burris has an associate’s degree in fashion merchandising from Bassist College, now the Art Institute of Portland.
She and her husband Larry have two sons — Wyatt, who recently graduated from the University of Oregon, and Emitt, who is a current UO student.
She started her working career with the Emporium, was a stay-at-home mom and then worked for Weight Watchers, traveling regularly to offices in Alaska.
Burris said the carousel is now operating on summer hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Tokens are $2 per ride.
August 17 the carousel will celebrate its second birthday with a street carnival.
Two new animals — Sampson, the colorful rooster, and Thunder, a burly bison — were recently added to the carousel menagerie and Burris said more new family members will be added by this fall.
Carousel board member Eric Aguinaga said hiring Burris “was an easy decision. We are very pleased she is returning to our corner of downtown Albany and that she is representing our community’s beautiful carousel.”