There is some order in what appears to be chaos in the backyard of the Ferguson residence in Ethel. Power tools, two-by-fours bracketed together in odd shapes and plywood lie about a makeshift work area as daughter and father work side by side constructing a gift for the little ones in their family.
Stephanie Ferguson and her father, Glen Ferguson, are making a kid-powered “squaris wheel” — dubbed by its original designer because of its square wheel. The pint-sized version of a Ferris wheel is braced to be as sturdy as possible.
Each time the square wheel goes around, each passenger gives the wheel a backward push with his or her feet.
The bucket seats pivot and have a safety bar across the front, just like a Ferris wheel, keeping small riders safe.
Stephanie Ferguson said she first approached her dad about the idea after seeing a photo of the vintage ride on a social media site.
She searched the Internet until she found the plans for building the wheel and secured her dad’s help with the project.
“I wasn’t too concerned that we wouldn’t be able to do it, because he is great at fixing and building things,” Stephanie Ferguson said.
With help from Dad, the duo studied the plans and diagrams they printed from the Internet, running into problems. The sizes of the hardware they needed were outdated.
“That’s when we knew the design and plans were probably really, really old,” Stephanie Ferguson said. “So, we sort of winged it.”
As if constructing one square Ferris wheel wouldn’t be difficult enough, they realized that with two households of Ferguson children, they’d have to build two square Ferris wheels.
“We figured if we could successfully build the one, we’d be able to pull off making another one much easier and faster,” Glen Ferguson said.
“I got this idea in my head, and I was determined to see it through, but honestly, I have never built anything before this, never used a power tool before,” said Stephanie Ferguson.
The five young children in Stephanie’s and Glen’s lives — her great-nieces and nephews and his great-grandchildren — have no idea what their elders have been doing. The Ferguson children will be surprised with the squaris wheels on Christmas Day.
The children — Micah, 4, Baleigh, 2, and Jude, 1 — are Michael and Sharon Ferguson’s, while Aralynn, 4, and Avynn, 2, are the children of Joseph and Marcia Ferguson.
According to Stephanie Ferguson, the mini-carnival rides are large enough for eight small children to ride. Two children can fit into one of the bucket seats, which are fastened with bolts for safety and painted in vintage green, red and yellow colors.
The Fergusons have worked on the project every spare second when Stephanie Ferguson hasn’t been working at her day job as an accountant.
Because she lives near her parents in Ethel, getting to the work area has been easy enough.
Her quest to create the ultimate Christmas gift for the children turned into something greater — a chance to bond with her father over the Christmas spirit of giving.
“I feel a great sense of accomplishment in working with my dad on this project. He is a master of all types of things and can do practically anything,” Stephanie Ferguson said.
She said that in the past her dad handed down his knowledge to her four brothers — Glen Jr., Mike, Steve and Jeff — but now he has passed some of his wisdom to her.
She said she hopes the memories of building the squaris wheels will return when she needs to complete a project on her own.
Stephanie Ferguson admits children can be unpredictable at times, so she’s been unsure of their reaction to the odd gift.
“I just hope we can see the magic of Christmas in their eyes when they see what we built for them and they’ll know how much we love them,” she said. “After all, Christmas is for kids.”