This weekend: St. Mary’s carnival and fireworks, a city tradition

St. Mary’s School is abuzz with excitement at this time of year as the students get ready for their school to host the annual St. Mary’s carnival, which is this weekend.

There’s no school for students on Friday because that’s the day all the rides are set up in the school lot, and the day the big event kicks off.

St. Mary’s carnival will take place at 72 Gulf St., Friday, Sept. 21, from 6 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 22, from 1 to 11 p.m. with fireworks at 10 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 23, from 1 to 5 p.m.

There will be baked goods, rides, 50/50 raffles, live music, and a car raffle. Wristbands for rides are available for $25 per day.

“I think that one of the best parts of the carnival is the atmosphere in the school in the days leading up to the actual event,” said Julia LaVecchia, one of the school parents. “The kids are so excited to go to school and see the rides. It really truly brings everyone together and creates such positive school spirit.”

There is always that one ride, that one daring ride that students look forward to each year, said April Bryant, who does marketing for the school. But they don’t know what it is going to be each year, so as the final pieces are put into place for the annual carnival, they get a peek at what it will be.

Bryant said the annual carnival harkens back to days gone by, when a community’s annual church fair or church carnival was the big event of the year. Fried dough, homemade baked goods, and all the other traditional tastes of a real hometown carnival fill the air with an aroma like no other, she said.

“It traditionally brings the community together,” Bryant said. “Even on Friday and Saturday night, which is popular for the teens, it’s still a great community atmosphere.”

She wasn’t sure how many years the carnival has been running as a fundraiser for the school. But she said the school was established in 1961. The carnival ran for a while and then stopped, before being brought back around 1990. The annual fireworks was added to the lineup sometime in the late 1990s, she said.

A parent or group of parents runs the event each years. This year it is the Siano and Root families.

LaVecchia said, however, that all the families come together to make the event a success, and that’s one of the things she likes best about the carnival.

“It is truly the effort of the school families working together that makes it such a success every year,” LaVecchia said. “The parents work hard and get to know each other while the kids enjoy the carnival together. My kids talk about it all year. They love that they can see their teachers in a social environment and it's such a safe, family-friendly event, it just makes for a great tradition for kids from the preschool through 8th grade and, of course, the graduates always come back after they graduate.”

The carnival isn’t just a tradition for the St. Mary’s students but for the entire community, Bryant added: Other than carnivals sometimes held at the mall, St. Mary’s is the only organization that offers this kind of annual carnival in Milford.

This year’s raffle is for a 2018 Nissan Altima 2.5S, Apple 9.7 iPad 128GB, or $250 Shoprite gift card. Tickets, $5, can be purchased at the carnival. The drawing will take place at the carnival on Sunday, Sept. 23, at 4:30 p.m.