The Flying Horses will remain closed this season because sanitizers would damage the historic carousel, according to an announcement from the nonprofit that owns and maintains the landmark Oak Bluffs attraction.

“In order to keep both our staff and the public safe, we had devised Covid-19 sanitation protocols for the horses. However, after doing a paint analysis, we determined that the recommended dosage and frequency of alcohol based cleaning fluid would have eroded the historic paint on the horses," said Funi Burdick. president and CEO of the Vineyard Trust, in a press statement.

"As a preservation organization, our core mission is to protect and maintain the cultural artifacts in our care. While we recognize the important role the Flying Horses carousel plays in making and helping to relive treasured Island memories, we must take the conservative path this year in order to protect the carousel for future visitors.”

The nation’s oldest platform carousel, the Flying Horses is listed on the National Historic Landmark registry. Constructed in 1876 by Charles Dare of New York Carousel Manufacturing, it is one of only two Dare carousels that still exist, according to the Vineyard Trust announcement.

Originally operated on Coney Island, the carouselwas moved to Oak Bluffs in 1884 and acquired by the Vineyard Trust in 1986 to prevent it from being dismantled and sold piecemeal to collectors of antique carved horses. The trust undertook an extensive restoration of the Flying Horses, returning the carousel to its original appearance, complete with the historic panel paintings by a Dare factory artist.

Other trust-owned landmarks have reopened to the public, including the Carnegie, which houses the permanent exhibit Living Landmarks and serves as the starting point for historic walking tours around Edgartown.

The trust will reopen Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs July 12-19 as the temporary home of Artist-in-Residence and civil rights sculptor Kevin Sampson, as part of special partnership event with Mariposa Museum. Mr. Sampson will be producing, with community input, a found art assemblage sculpture to be part of the Mariposa Museum's Freedom Song summer exhibit.

For more information about the Vineyard Trust, visit