Monday, March 16, 2009

Under the Big Top

Friday the school hosted a carnival. All the games had circus related names, thanks to some creative college students. There was food, games, and an auction. The committee had 8 weeks to plan this fundraising extravagance. This was the first carnival and auction the school had hosted for many years, meaning none of us on the committee had done this before. So, after 8 weeks of sweat and planning this is what we came up with.

The local paint your own pottery store offers a great fundraiser for schools. The store provides plates, supplies, and the use of their kiln, at a discount. Each class places their thumb prints around a plate, someone very creative (our art teacher) decorates the plates, and the pottery store fires it. What comes out are some beautiful plates and a keepsake for the winning family. (At a different school one of these class plates went for $2300. Yes, you read that right, with a "thousand". The highest one of our plates went for was around $200; which still seems outrageous to me, but it was for a good cause.)
Each class also assembled a theme basket for the auction. Along with donations from local business' the auction was a success.My sister-in-law was on the food committee. Before the carnival she was ready to throw the cotton candy machine out the window. Thankfully one of the volunteers had worked a cotton candy machine before and my SIL was saved from a sticky h***.
EM spent the evening asking for cotton candy, she even threw a cotton candy denied tantrum. I kept saying no because she doesn't eat the stuff. And if she doesn't eat it that means JT will end up eating it, and he doesn't need sugar, or I will eat it, and I don't need the calories. Near the end of the evening she finally gave in and ate her popcorn, finished the popcorn, and then asked for cotton candy. (I'm guessing that she thought if she ate what I wanted her to then she would be allowed to eat cotton candy. Yeah, not so much.)

Games, games and more games. The teachers provided most of the games. The Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers, Big Sisters also came in and hosted activities. (This made the games committee job very easy.) The two and half hours slated for the games was not enough time. But it didn't matter. To play a game each child (or adult if they so wished) had to purchase a game ticket. At the end of the evening, or the parent's patience, the ticket was handed in for a prize bag. The prize bag was the same, regardless of the number of games played.

We projected 350 kids (plus adults) and around 425 game tickets were sold. Our fundraising goal for the evening was $1500. Though we don't have the official tally yet, it is safe to say we cleared $5000. Oh yes. That will buy some new playground mulch, maybe a smart board or two. Or, my personal request, repainted parking lines.

A very big THANK YOU goes to the committee and our fearless committee leader Melissa. Our teachers who went above the call of duty (like always), the many volunteers (many high school and college students who spent a Friday night hanging with us), the custodial staff who were at the school all day, late into the evening, and returned Saturday for another function. And, finally to all the parents and children who's attendance made this a success.
Is your school planning a carnival, or maybe thinking about the possibility? Oh, it is so worth the hard work. Does your school host an annual carnival and/or auction? Leave a comment and tell us how it works. As we reflect on Friday's event we are looking at what needs changing for next year, and would love to hear how other schools run their carnivals.

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