As you walk into the Columbia Mall’s main entrance you will instantly notice the bright lights reflected off a large apparatus in the middle of the cafe court. Beyond the lights children laugh as they ride a variety of animals harnessed and saddled.
A large 38-foot custom-made carousel is now the centerpiece of the Columbia Mall’s cafe court. On Wednesday, children lined up, eagerly awaiting their turn for a ride on the vibrant fair ride. Designed like a fair carousel, it is adorned with bright lights that gleam off the golden poles from wooden floor to canopy ceiling. Its orange and red paint reflects the lighting, and the intricate craftsmanship is evident even at a glance.
Lions, horses, bears, tigers and other animals gracefully slide up and down, taking each child on an adventure to the tune of traditional carousel music.
Built in 1985, the Columbia Mall underwent multi-million dollar renovations that began in January and were finished earlier this week.
“Like anything 20 years old, we needed a face-lift,” said Leslie McKay, marketing manager for the mall.
The grand opening for the newly remodeled mall began with a ribbon cutting Wednesday morning, followed by the first carousel ride by the Chamber Ambassadors. Throughout the rest of the week the mall is giving away gift certificates and hosting several events each day.
The remodeling has altered the theme of the cafe court to a streetscape. All of the store fronts have the look of a city street with new signs and light-post decorations.
According to McKay, other renovations include a new paint color scheme and new signs directing guests toward the wings of their choice. There are new sky lights and chandeliers throughout the mall. There are new soft seating areas in each wing, except the food court. Besides the carousel, there is a new “Kidz Court” with a soft play area for young children. There are also new, bigger and more comfortable restrooms for families.
“We wanted to add something for everyone throughout all the construction, which we have done,” McKay said.
The carousel, which is the largest family attraction in the mall, costs $1 per ride and holds about 34 riders at a time. The ride lasts two and a half minutes. The feature day for the carousel is Sunday, when free carousel rides will be available to the first 500 riders. To go along with the carousel day, there will be face painting and balloon animals done by Rose Petal and LoLo the clowns.
The renovations include five new stores: Coldwater Creek, Chico’s, Ann Taylor Loft, Jos. A. Bank and Children’s Place.
Robert Harris, manager of Subway in the cafe court, said he is glad the project is complete.
“The final result is nice, with a much better atmosphere,” Harris said. “But it was rough working under the construction.”