Saturday, April 01, 2023

FAST FIVE: Rita Sims-Snyder: A steward of the Coeur d'Alene Carousel

by DEVIN WEEKS/Coeur Voice Contributor
| May 8, 2021 1:00 AM

Meet Rita Sims-Snyder, a local native who loves her hometown. As a kid, she spent her summers playing on Tubbs Hill, exploring the caves and swimming at Sanders Beach. She worked at her parents' motorcycle shop and worked at their motorcycle race track, Huetter Speedway. Rita traveled with her husband Ken for nine and-a-half years when he was in the Marine Corps, then came back home. Once home, she and her husband went back into the family business Coeur d'Alene Honda and Coeur d'Alene Powersports. Rita has been working at the family business for most of its 53 years.

Generation: Baby Boomer

Career and community involvement: Current president of the Coeur d'Alene Carousel Foundation.

Parental status: Married to my high school sweetheart Ken for 42 years this June. Two children, Kara and Nate.

1. How and when did you get involved with the Coeur d'Alene Carousel?

I became involved with the carousel back in 2010, when the first meeting was held to create a committee to help get the carousel back to Coeur d'Alene. I volunteered to serve on the board when the foundation was created, and have been on the board in one position or another ever since.

2. What are a few things you love about preserving and promoting this piece of Coeur d'Alene history?

I rode the carousel when I was young. My mom rode it as well. We have so little left from that era, and this piece of history is special and unique. It is miraculous that it survived and came back home. The carousel is from a simpler time, the way Coeur d'Alene used to be, and I just love the artistry and history. The re-painted art panels tell a story of our area's past and I so enjoy sharing its story with visitors, especially the kids. They are amazed when I tell them it is almost 100 years old.

3. What's one of the best stories you've heard from someone who has visited the carousel?

There are so many stories, folks who proposed to their loved one on the carousel or met their future spouse at Playland Pier. One of the best stories was a woman who visited the carousel and remembered it from her youth. She had ridden it as a kid. She and her friends would sneak into the park when it was closed, climb up under the canvas flaps covering the carousel and push it to make it go. Somehow it made noise, either the music played or something happened, and they had to scoot out of there quickly before they were discovered.

4. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? I love camping, but haven't done it for years. Camping again is on my bucket list, but this time in a camper van, not a leaky tent!

5. What's coming up for the 2021 season that you'd like our community to know?

We have a new "Foster and Name a Pony" program, which was a suggestion from a Facebook follower. We are pleased to host our free ride day again on Sunday, July 25 which is National Carousel Day. Rides will be free that day from noon until 5 p.m.

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