Restoration works, the search for a new permanent operator and two looming anniversaries have thrown a spotlight on Civic's iconic merry-go-round that has delighted generations of Canberra children since 1974.
The carousel will have been in Canberra for 40 years in 2014, the same year it turns 100.
Bought from under the nose of a Victorian consortium in 1973 for only $1000 more than their bid, the remarkable device is second only to Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles as a canny investment for the city. It is also demonstrably more popular.
The original $40,000 outlay would barely pay for two or three of the carousel's 52 horses today.
Carousels are currently enjoying an international vogue and the craftsmanship and design of the figures on the Canberra merry-go-round are unique.
Each exquisitely crafted horse carries a rear-facing goblin or troll, positioned to stare into the eyes of the rider immediately behind. These are based on figures from German folklore and sit well with the current infatuation with vampires, werewolves, zombies and productions such as True Blood.
Even though a white elephant called Queenie is a part of the mechanical menagerie, it would be a grave mistake to suggest the attraction is, or has ever been, one.
Daniel Bailey, head of the ACT government's property group, readily concedes the merry-go-round is possibly the most unusual item on his inventory of charges.
He - along with numerous other ACT staff - has worked as a volunteer on the carousel during the three-month gap between the end of the Penney family's long-standing association with the attraction in July 2012 and the appointment of the present temporary operators, Live Experience Access Develop.
The Penneys had run the attraction since 1974.
Mr Bailey, 38, moved to the ACT as an adult, so he has no childhood memories of the merry-go-round. His children love it. ''We can't walk past there without them wanting to have a ride,'' he said. ''I can see a time when I will be sharing my stories about the merry-go-round with my grandchildren.
''The weekend that I worked on it, it was quite busy. What absolutely surprised me was the interest by teenagers and adults, not just young children. Older people would also come up and reminisce.''
Anton Weniger, the German amusement-ride operator who commissioned the merry-go-round to replace his pony-powered carousel a little more than 100 years ago, was well aware such attractions had to speak to adults as well as to children.
While the wooden horses were imported from Germany, the main structure is decorated with dozens of paintings by little-known Melbourne artist William P. Plowman.
Scenes include gumtrees done in the style of Hans Heysen, courting couples, landscapes from around the world and a striking series of buxom nudes that would not look out of place in Norman Lindsay's studio.
Prospective art thieves are advised to leave well enough alone. The trade in Plowman's works has been slow for some decades now and prices are stuck firmly in the three figures.
Weniger's merry-go-round experience was not all beer and skittles. In January 1916, when anti-German sentiment was running high, a group of about 50 Diggers descended on Weniger's Riding Gallery in St Kilda, armed with staves, stones and fence palings.
The unfortunate German, who had lived in Australia for more than 10 years, was interned for the duration of the war as an enemy alien.
His merry-go-round constitutes a substantial monument to his foresight and planning. It is 12 metres wide, 5.25 metres high and weighs more than 15 tonnes.
At the time of its construction, the merry-go-round was the largest in Australia and was said to rotate on the biggest ball bearing in Australia.
While the original steam engine has been restored, the device is now powered by electricity in deference to 21st-century health and safety considerations.
The organ and glockenspiel, which were also acquired in 1974 and which have also been restored, are kept at a separate site.
They comprise what is effectively a giant ''player piano'' that uses special ''music books'' - analogue mechanical computer programs - to strike the right notes.
Mr Bailey said while the trial management of the merry-go-round by Live Experience Access Develop had been successful, a public ''request for proposal'' process had to be conducted before a permanent arrangement could be entered.
''Only respondents that can demonstrate they are an ACT/Queanbeyan-based social enterprise will be considered,'' he said.
Submissions closed on December 12 and a decision is expected soon. Prospective operators will not be responsible for the maintenance and restoration of Civic's star parent trap, however.
The ACT government is determined to ensure the merry-go-round is continually refurbished and upgraded and, as such, reserves that responsibility for itself.
In the past 12 months, tails, bridles and stirrup leathers have been replaced and horses cleaned up and made presentable.
The next task is to begin a comprehensive process of restoring each of the figures ''on a rotational basis''.