St. Mary’s carnival brings community together for rides, fireworks and more

The annual St. Mary’s School Carnival is here from Friday, September 25th until Sunday, the 27th. This carnival has been part of the St. Mary’s community for many years, and the workers spend a great amount of time to raise money and make sure everyone has a fun weekend.

The children who attend enjoy the variety of games, the fun house, and especially the colorful and fun rides. There is a big slide, a ferris wheel, a small dragon roller coaster, and “The Sizzler”, which is like “The Scrambler”. There is also a cliffhanger ride and one that spins rapidly, which is called “The Tornado”.

“[My kids] like coming and seeing all their friends, walking around feeling safe, going on all the rides, especially the cliffhanger. They have a night out and feel at home in their comfortable environment,” said St. Mary’s First Grade Teacher Katherine Doyle.

Al Acevedo is the co-chairperson of the carnival. This will be his 16th year working at the event, and his fifth year as the co-chairperson. According to Acevedo, the St. Mary’s School carnival began in 1961 as a church fair, but after some time, it ended for a couple of years. However, it eventually began again and developed into what it is now.

Acevedo states there are new rides every year, and a firework display Saturday night at 10 p.m. Also, wristbands can be used every day.

According to Acevedo, profit-wise the carnival usually raises a little more than $20,000, which goes towards the St. Mary’s operating budget that helps offset tuition. Last year they were just shy of $20,000. The carnival does a lot to raise funds for the school.

“We also do [a] car raffle which runs through the entire summer, and the drawing is Sunday at 4:30; that’s the final act of the carnival,” he said. “And that also contributes towards the school’s budget.”

There is a great amount of prep work that goes into this annual event.

“We start in April or May [for] the filing permits with the city, the fireworks, for the games that we’re having [and] the 50/50 raffle; [We] work with Pyrotechnics Inc., who do our fireworks. We work with them over the summer; [the experts] put together the display and get all those permits and everything worked on,” said Acevedo.

According to Acevedo, after the prep work, the process of ordering and renting all the equipment begins. This is all the work that goes on behind the scenes, and there is much more to do as the carnival week arrives.

“During the week of the event we get physically involved. [We] get tables and coolers and ice and electrical [equipment] and everything else,” he said.

Once the carnival is here, it gets very busy and the workers have a lot of responsibilities. Kristin Luzzi is also the co-chairperson; she has been working at the carnival for 10 years, and this will be her fifth as the co-chairperson. She is in charge of the food that will be provided and she has many other duties.

“We sell the tickets for the rides, we do the 50-50 raffle, we sell wonderful homemade baked goods at our bake tent and of course the food tent,” Luzzi said.

According to Luzzi, the food tent is filled with a big supply of appetizing food such as hotdogs, hamburgers, corn dogs, sausage and pepper subs, chicken fingers and fried dough. There is also a tent containing many delicious baked goods, hot chocolate, fresh coffee, candy and Italian ice.

Acevedo states that he must make sure everything is staffed appropriately, and be sure to follow all the legal guidelines, health safeties, proper security and more. Despite all the hard work and preparation, Acevedo and Luzzi love what they do.

Luzzi has a great time every year and describes running this event as a family affair.

“My husband cooks the fried dough,” she said. “Our two sons also help out with the food shopping and prep work. I don't make them work during the carnival so they can enjoy it with all of their friends.”

She is very proud of all the hard work that goes into the event.

“It really is a special weekend at St. Mary's.  It is a lot of work but the reward is seeing the SMS community come together to ensure that we have a successful fundraiser for the school.”

Acevedo said he loves to see all the happy faces from the students.

“Seeing the excitement from the kids, just when [the workers are] wheeling in the rides, and the rides are parked just four days before the event, kids’ eyes just lighting up. It’s just a buzz and high level of energy in the school and that really brings together the community.”

St. Mary’s Carnival, 72 Gulf Street, will be Friday, Sept. 25, 6-11 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26, 1-11 p.m., with 10 p.m. fireworks, and Sunday, Sept. 27, 1-5 p.m. There will be food, baked goods, 50/50 raffles, and car raffle ($5 tickets). Wristbands available for $25 per day and good for day of purchase.