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This page is dedicated to the history of the CAROUSEL AND PLAYLAND PIER from 1941 until its return in 2011. Mr. W Earl Somers president and manager of the, Coeur d' Alene Lakeside Development company started to build the pier in the city park in about 1940. The pier was owned by the City Of Coeur D Alene. In 1941 George J. Schneberger contractor hauled 20,000 yards of dirt and 2,000 yards of riprap fill to build the pier. Pier opened in the summer of 1942. The pier (Later called Barbers Coast Amusement) hosted a Ferris Wheel, Bumper Cars, Spillman Carousel, Kiddie rides and swings, a swing that went out over the water and a rocket loop o plane.         

"Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus "
Written by: Bette Largent, President National Carousel Association
Reprinted from the Spring 2011 Merry-GoRoundup, the official publication of the National Carousel Association.

It was barely a week before Christmas when the calls and emails came into Don and I about the return of the Playland Pier carousel to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. They were all from Richard LeFrancis, who was trying once again, after nearly a dozen years,(See Richards Full Story) to bring back the little 1922 Spillman Engineering Carousel that had once entertained the children of the resort town 35 miles from Spokane, WA. Playland Pier, a small amusement park on the banks of Lake Coeur d'Alene, had been a bright entertainment spot on the popular beach. It had created fond memories for almost everyone in the area who was a child in the late '40s through the mid 1970s. At that time, Coeur d'Alene was known for its lumber mills, mining, and the pristine views of one of the most picturesque and largest lakes of northern Idaho. The amusement park employed the usual fare - teenagers who vied for the chance of summer employment at the center of fun on the busy beach. One of those teenagers would become so sentimental about her summers spent selling pop and hot dogs and working on the merry-go-round that she and her husband would amass one of the largest carousel collections in the country, perhaps the world. Her dream was to see this first carousel in her life to spin again on those same sandy beaches of her youth. Her name was Carol Perron. An earlier attempt to return it back home had sparked to life in the late 1990s but to no avail. Le Francis luckily had not forgotten the positive response of the community who agreed on its return. The area has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. The main attraction of the lake was now the focal point of economic revitalization with a four star resort hotel, condominiums overlooking the lake, award winning golf courses, and winter skiing close by - a true modern year around resort town. Le Francis' first call was to Don Largent, who handles the group bookings for the Spokane 1909 Looff Carrousel. LeFrancis was researching Spokane's carousel operations, marketing, and the history of the popular antique ride in the heart of the downtown area. His next call was to me for even more information. I told him I knew of the desire of the Perrons to return it back home to Coeur d'Alene and had attended the public hearings on the proposal in 1999. I told him of the NCA Technical conference in 2004 when attendees as well as myself had ridden it while it was on display at the Willamette Center in Oregon. At that time it was part of a spectacular display from the International Carousel Museum's collection owned by the Perrons. I assured him I and the NCA would help him in any way we could to make the dream come true. I then began to gather more information to send along to him and finish those cookies before Christmas.
Le Francis' next action was to call the Coeur d'Alene Press, the local newspaper, and relate to them his idea of trying once more to bring the carousel back to Coeur d'Alene. The story was posted on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2010. Unbeknownst to any of us, there was a gentleman and his wife, John and Pat Foote, who were in Coeur d'Alene buying a summer residence that overlooked the beach and the lake where the merry-go-round had operated. Upon reading the story, John was immediately taken back to his own teenage years of working at Wonderland, a small amusement park in Billings, Montana owned by his parents during the same period of time. John picked up the phone and called Le Francis on Christmas Day. By February, barely two months after these first phone calls were made, and following a lot of emails and press releases (the check for the Carousel was written at the Pappy Boyington Fied Musuem) Don and I were there as the local volunteers unloaded the carousel in Idaho. Carol and Duane Perron were there, armed with clippings and photos of their trek to not only restore but to operate the little merry-go-round as well as enjoy its final road trip home. John and Pat Foote have not only gifted the carousel to the Coeur d'Alene community, but have provided funds to facilitate its move, setup and training needed to make it spin again on the banks of the pristine lake. Their only stipulation is that the community must provide it with a building that places no burden upon the taxpayers. The community has agreed that they are up to the challenge.


Do you have photos, stories or things of interest that you would like to have people from our city see? Go to the “Contact” link and send us a note/ comment. We would love to share your historical contribution. We really like the gritty side of know, the way it REALLY was.