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Life is a Carnival (believe it or not)

February 24th, 2005

I never finished up this topic, sorry. Got too busy railing.

School carnivals take a heck of a lot of planning but man, are they ever worth it! (And I think we might even have made a little money, which is always nice.) We had two huge bounce-arounds (these are spendy, but the kids love them), a rootsy-folksy band that appealed to the crowd, a magician, a bunch of games (ping-pong ball toss into iced tea glasses, sports booth, cakewalk, all of those), face painting, and a Cajun feast with rice and beans, jambalaya, cornbread and Moon Pies.

The photo badge booth, where the kids could get their pictures taken and put their sweet little mugs on a button, was a hit, as was the arts & crafts room. It gave people a nice quiet space to mellow out. They made “shoebox floats” (for the parade) that they decorated with paper and glitter, and they could make Mardi Gras masks, too. We also sold a ton of feathery Mardi Gras masks and glow necklaces, for a dollar apiece. (You can get a lot of materials online, for cheap. And sometimes party stores will give you a school discount.) We raffled a bunch of stuff off and had door prizes, too. There was a big parade through the halls
at the end.

I came home and passed out, and so did the rest of the Wacky Family. Also I completely went into a sugar coma from the cake Wacky Girl and Boy won in the cakewalk, and the large box of peanut butter cups I devoured with almost no help from other family members. This sugar binge was followed by gin and tonic binge with the in-laws while they were here — damn, no wonder my head is fuzzy. Whew.

Some tips:

* If your in-laws are coming for a visit, make sure they arrive the night of the carnival, not the next day. Otherwise they miss all the fun! Plus you can rope an extra volunteer or two this way. (Wait, maybe this
was intentional on their part?)

* Start planning way in advance — at least three months. A lot of the bigger stores avoid charity donations by requiring at least 30 days notice — some even want six to eight weeks. Well, I understand they need time to get signatures on forms and to dither around calling “corporate” and all that crap, but it also lets them off the hook because they know that all of us Wacky Mommies and Daddies are running around at the eleventh hour trying to pull it together. Dithering, as it were.

* Get a letter from the principal as soon as you’ve set a date, so you can photocopy two bazillion copies and take them around to everyone. People you would never expect to cough up will totally surprise you, and people you think are sure bets will let you down. Gift certificates, donated items, cash money — all are gratefully appreciated. Baked goods are adored.

* Expect the unexpected — one of our “for sure” donors completely flaked out, and one of our donors who we didn’t think was even going to donate a day-old cake for the cakewalk came through with a carload of muffins, pastries, cakes and about 100 of those yummy little mini-fruit pies (which we sold with dinners).

It was fun. I’m already planning next year’s! Go for it at your school, if you’re hesitating. The kids will be happy, even if it’s not perfect, and the grown-ups will like it, too.


  1. Heather says

    You all did an amazingly wonderful job! I was really impressed–and I know of which I speak: I helped plan that sucker for years, and was in charge of the whole shootin’ match one year. Loved the Cajun food, the band, the gorgeous masks-all of it. We had so much fun. Thanks for all you did!

    February 24th, 2005 | #

  2. Wacky Mommy says

    You are welcome! I was glad to be part of it.

    February 24th, 2005 | #

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