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PHOTOS: Revamped 'Champ' rides his way into Prince George's Exploration Place

Iconic ride was moved after Northern Hardware and Furniture Co. closed its doors

There's a new 'Champion' in town, but the previous is also here to stay. 

The Exploration Place revealed 'Champ' the second (if you will) this morning (Aug. 14) at the museum. 

The mechanical horse's original home was Northern Hardware and Furniture Co., but the company shut its doors in February after 100 years of service in Prince George.

Many wondered where the iconic ride would be placed. 

The Moffat family, owners of Northern Hardware, approached Exploration Place and donated Champ, along with artifacts and boxes of historical photos, to the museum. He was moved on Feb. 15, just days after the store closure.

“As folks will remember, The Northern shut down a while back and one of the major artifacts that was collected in the Northern collection was ‘Champion,’ the horse that people have been riding here for generations,” Exploration CEO Tracy Calogheros said.

Facility Manager John Calogheros said he would need to go over Champ with a fine-tooth comb to determine the condition of the years-old artifact after the ride was moved. 

Today, they revealed a second Champ was created. 

John had gone through the original including mechanics and determined the horse wouldn't be able to tolerate the level of ridership that it would receive. They then turned their sites to hunting down another horse, then the found a company in Florida. 

‘It was an adventure,” Tracy said. “John tracked down a company called Carousel Workshop in Florida, [they] had one that had yet to be restored because no one was interested in purchasing it. So we pulled the trigger and purchased the new ‘Champ.’

“We had him painted to match the old ‘Champ’ and now he’s here.”

But, the original Champ won't be disappearing any time soon!

Once Exploration Place reopens in 2021, Champ will be placed on the museum floor for people to admire and remember the memories they made riding Champ.

The Exploration Place believes it was a no brainer to put him on display for all to see.

“A big part of heritage interpretation in today’s world is about trying to get people engaged in history,” Tracy added. “When you have an artifact like a ride on a horse that the entire community has memories of riding on, you don’t want to put it behind glass.

“We do still plan to bring the old champ out and find a way for people to take pictures or have their kids on Champ. We will bring the original back for display."

Once available for rides, it will cost 25 cents as opposed to the original 10 cents. Tracy said it was the lowest option they could get the machine attached to. 

Not only will previous years of memories be reflected upon, new memories will also be created for years to come.