Written by funrun_9602 on 13 Dec, 2004
For me, Saint Joseph, Michigan, is more than I thought a perfect small town could be. I grew up in a small Ohio town that still has not fulfilled its potential to be a great small town. Perhaps my disappointment in my own hometown is…Read More
For me, Saint Joseph, Michigan, is more than I thought a perfect small town could be. I grew up in a small Ohio town that still has not fulfilled its potential to be a great small town. Perhaps my disappointment in my own hometown is to blame for my somewhat subconscious perpetual search for the perfect small town. I’ve visited small towns throughout all of New England, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Michigan, but St. Joseph is the only one that truly has everything: brick-paved tree-lined streets, unique restaurants, cafés, and bars (none of them franchises and most of them delicious and reasonably priced), shops with something for everyone (read: not just for antiquers or those with money to burn), and almost always cloudless, sunny weather with a steady medium-average humidity (in summer). But the list gets better—the town sits on a bluff overlooking a huge, clean white-sand beach (Silver Beach) and sparkling-blue Lake Michigan. In the summer, you can expect a different festival every weekend, usually of the arts-and-crafts type. If you are not convinced yet, consider this: literally all types and ages of people congregate here, probably because St. Joseph really does have something to please everyone. The rest of my journal attempts to explain this phenomenon through examples.
Painted Carousel Horses
Here comes the "and more" part. I personally don't see the tourism draw to seeing a bunch of painted carousel horses when there are so many other things to do here, but the horses are a sizable tourist attraction for this town. If for nothing else, they do add a truly unique visual interest to the old-fashioned small-town charm.
I’ve been told that various local business and organizations bought these horses from an old carousel that used to sit under the bluff in the now-empty Whirlpool Field. Each horse is decorated, painted, and named according to a theme, which usually relates to the business. For example, the bank’s horse is completely covered in dollar bills and accented with coins. These horses are literally all over the town, not just the downtown. You can get free info and guide maps to see all of them from many local businesses, especially the ones with a horse on their property. Each horse host also sells commemorative pins, shirts, and a deck of playing cards that features all the horses.