You know that tilt-a-whirl down on the south beach drag
I got on it last night and my shirt got caught
And they kept me spinnin’
Didn’t think I’d ever get off
Bruce Springsteen – 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) 1973
My favorite carnival ride ever is the Tilt-A-Whirl. When the carnival came to town I would use all of my tickets to ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl.
After a few years, you would pay one price and get stamped. I would get off the Tilt a Whirl and get right back on again. If I were rich I would get one for the back yard. I am terrified of heights but I love spinning.
Herbert W. Sellner, a woodworker, and maker of water slides invented the Tilt-A-Whirl in 1926 at his Faribault, Minnesota, home.
Sellner got his inspiration in his kitchen. He would put his young son, Art, on a chair on the table and move the table around. If he could make his son giggle with glee, Herb wondered, why not spread the joy?
The spinning ride debuted the next year at the 1927 Minnesota state fair, the same year Sellner Manufacturing opened a factory in Faribault and began a production run that would eventually churn out more than 1,000 Tilt-a-Whirls.
Nearly 700 of the rides are still in use. The oldest known working example is a 1927 model. In 2011, Sellner Manufacturing was sold to a company in Texas, where Tilt-a-Whirls are still being made.