A week of food, fun and fund raising

South Brunswick Family YMCA carnival brings in $22,000 in a week

By: Brian Shappell
   YMCA volunteers had to close the gates on the Y’s 2002 summer carnival Saturday at 11 p.m.
   And like any good party, more than 50 people were still around at the end complaining that the festivities had to be brought to an end.
   Maureen DeBlasio, YMCA special events coordinator, could only take the post-carnival complaints as compliments.
   The YMCA raised more than $22,000 and entertained more than 8,000 local residents at its sixth carnival, held July 1 to 6 on the grounds of the Crossroads School. And true to the repeated hopes of the YMCA staff and volunteers, there was no rain to drive people away.
   "It went really well all week," Ms. DeBlasio said. "It was hot, but that’s a lot better than rain."
   Ms. DiBlasio said Saturday’s carnival finale drew the largest attendance of the week, with young children and teens still buying ride tickets at 10 p.m. and a four-hour rock show from East Brunswick’s Simple Groove to end festivities. Upward of 50 people stayed until the proverbial last bell, 11 p.m. Saturday, according to Ms. DeBlasio.
   The carnival is one of the South Brunswick Family YMCA’s primary fund-raising events for the year. Proceeds will go toward YMCA scholarships, which go to people to offset the cost of registration fees for YMCA programs or classes. The event will represent nearly 12 percent of the total $200,000 expected to be raised for the organization this year.
   The last carnival, held in July 2000, raised $15,000 for the construction of the YMCA facility despite poor weather throughout the week. A carnival was not held in 2001 because of scheduling difficulties, both with the traveling carnival company, the Hazleton, Pa.-based Henry T. Cole company, and with volunteers.
   The carnival drew a truly diverse crowd throughout the week — from teen-age couples holding hands to longtime residents to new residents with toddlers in strollers to college students clad in basketball jerseys to grandparents to teens in punk-rock T-shirts, it seemed every township group was represented.
   The top attraction for the youngest carnival-goers were the pig and duck races, held twice daily by Sue Wee!, a traveling company. Pre-teens and teen-agers were most drawn to the new faster and twisting rides Vortex and Zipper, Ms. DeBlasio said. One could hear shrieks from the thrill-riders for hundreds of feet down nearby Major Road.
   One aspect Ms. DeBlasio said she was particularly encouraged by was the number of volunteers — both new and old. More than 50 volunteers joined full-time YMCA staffers to help make the event a success.
   "It was really exciting to get new people out for the event and involved," said Ms. DeBlasio. "Some of the volunteers came from as far away as Clark to help us out."