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Iconic carousel returns to Coeur d’Alene

UPDATED: Thu., June 8, 2017, 10:57 p.m.

An iconic piece of Coeur d’Alene history will return to the Lake City this weekend.

After six years of fundraising and restoration, the Playland Pier Carousel is all set for its grand opening on Friday, as a part of Coeur d’Alene’s first Family Day in the Park.

The Coeur d’Alene Carousel Foundation is responsible for fundraising and making arrangements for the carousel’s installation.

The hand-carved carnival carousel is a relic of Coeur d’Alene’s past, and has stood the test of time. A 1922 Spillman Junior Carousel from North Tonawanda, New York, the carousel was mostly used in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s at the old Playland Pier, which Carousel Foundation Secretary Rita Snyder described as a mini-Coney Island.

The park was dismantled in 1974, and what structures remained burned down in 1975. It is unknown what happened to the carousel before it resurfaced at an auction in Puyallup in 1987. Duane and Carol Perron purchased it and added it to their carousel museum in Hood River, Oregon.

It was restored and then sent to many places for hire until 2011, when a local retired couple, John and Pat Foote, bought it at auction for $250,000 and gifted it to the Carousel Foundation.

There were times when fundraising was difficult and the foundation wasn’t sure if the carousel was truly going to open. But benefactor Bud Ford offered a matching pledge of $200,000 toward fundraising for the project.

In a rapidly growing city like Coeur d’Alene, Snyder said she’s passionate about the carousel because it honors the city’s heritage.

She and Cari Fraser, the foundation’s president, said they have been flooded with Facebook messages and comments from people who remember riding the carousel as children.

One woman even recalled sneaking out of Sherman Elementary School with her friends and crawling under the fence to get to the closed ride. When they pushed it to get it going, the music turned on and a groundskeeper discovered them.

The woman’s skirt got stuck under the fence as she was running out, but the group managed to narrowly escape.

Many other people have commented, saying they have either worked for the carousel or ridden it as children and look forward to having their grandchildren experience it.

The carousel will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Ride tokens are free the first day and will cost $2 apiece when the carousel officially reopens on June 16.

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