The Rexburg Recreation Department is hosting the annual Carousel Summer Kickoff on Friday. The event is said to have a carnival atmosphere and great for all ages.

“It’s going to be a really fun, family-friendly event and for college students as well,” said Megan Hamblin, a recreation manager with the Rexburg Recreation Department. “The Carousel Summer Kickoff is a celebration of how special the carousel is and how it got there.”

According to the Rexburg Recreation Department, the Idaho Centennial Carousel is the only antique wooden carousel in Idaho and one of 170 in the United States. The Spillman Engineering Company of New York built the carousel in 1926 as a traveling carnival. The carousel spent a few years in Utah before coming to Rexburg in 1952.

“It’s kind of a rare gem in Idaho to have that at a park,” Hamblin said. “Not only just a carousel, but a carousel that has such a rich history with being brought all the way from New York, and then with the Teton Dam Flood, it required restoring the carousel.”

When the flood hit the Upper Snake River Valley in 1976, the waters damaged the structure of the carousel and swept away several of the wooden horses. In 1988, skilled craftsmen dismantled the carousel, restoring it in time for the 1990 centennial celebration of Idaho’s statehood, according to the Department.

Hamblin said the Carousel Summer Kickoff provides a way for the community to celebrate the hard work that went into restoring the carousel to a working carnival ride.

“It’s really special to have something like that here that’s lasted time and that still works,” Hamblin said.

The unique carousel still plays music from an organ run on a paper roll. The music by the Stinson Band Organ Company provides “old-fashioned original sound,” according to the Department.

Friday’s kickoff is at Porter Park from 4 to 8 p.m. with free carousel rides, balloon animals, a petting zoo, bounce houses, carnival games and more. This week’s Rexburg Farmers’ Market travels to the park instead of its usual location on College Avenue.

With road construction around Porter Park, the Department said parking at the event is limited. Hamblin suggests people either walk or ride bikes to the kickoff event.

More information for the event can be found on its Facebook page.