Neverland ferris wheel comes to Selma

Published 2:16 am Friday, October 2, 2009

SELMA — When “King of Pop” Michael Jackson wanted to be by himself and reflect on things, he would go to his Neverland Ranch and sit in a ferris wheel seat.

No. 13, to be exact.

That same ferris wheel will be the center of attention at 5 p.m. Monday when the Central Alabama Fair opens on Lions Field.

Ed Noerper of Archway Amusements in Imperial, Mo., bought the ferris wheel in September 2008. After refurbishing the amusement ride, he has been traveling around the country, stopping at county fairs and other events.

“It’s 65 feet tall,” Noerper said Thursday. “We changed the color on it from a wine color to green. Some of the seats, however, still have the original color.”

The entire ride has 5,000 lights and takes three men three hours to set it up. Noerper said he planned to set up the ferris wheel on Sunday in time for Monday’s opening. The first county fair to have the ferris wheel in operation was the Fayette County Fair in October 2008.

Actually, this is the second trip to Selma for the ferris wheel. The ride attended the 2008 Central Alabama Fair, but it was not operational at the time.

“We had at first wondered about advertising that it was Michael Jackson’s ferris wheel,” Noerper said. “You don’t know how people are going to react to it.”

Getting a ferris wheel to a superstar like Michael Jackson was no small feat.

“It was a big deal for him to order it,” Noerper said. “They said he used to sit in it, probably to get away from people. He even had a remote control to the ferris wheel that would turn the lights on when he came outside, but that part’s been taken off. You can still see the box where it went.”

Noerper, whose family has been providing the entertainment for the Central Alabama Fair for about the past 40 years, said the ferris wheel was built in 1990 and delivered in 1991.

“It was only set up once before I bought it,” he said.