St. Stephen – Colourful balloons, costumed superheroes, and fairy tale characters, bouncy castles, sweet cotton candy and games – lots of games.
That’s just some of what’s in store for those who attend this year’s IWK Kids Karnival Saturday, May 13, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Garcelon Civic Center, in St. Stephen.
The annual event is hosted by the Charlotte County IWK Fundraising Committee. Admission is free. Money from the sale of tickets which are used to purchase prize items, play games, or participate in play areas, goes to the IWK Hospital for Sick Children in Halifax.
New this year, said committee president Jen Johnston, is the IWK Fun Swim from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the civic centre pool. Cost for the swim is $2, payable by cash, or with eight of the 25 cent tickets purchased for the carnival.
Johnston said organizers want to encourage kids to bring their swim trunks or bathing suits and towels and have a dip in the pool. She joked it was a good way for kids, sticky from treats at the carnival, to wash off before they headed home.
Johnston said the pool time was generously donated by the civic centre, which the committee greatly appreciated.
“We may not get all the children this year, but at least if we get some, it will be a nice way to end the day.”
Also new this year will be a large jumping tent, which will be erected indoors. “This year, we’ve gone with a 40 foot inflatable slide,” enthused Johnston.
There are a couple new carnival games as well, but Johnston declined to reveal what they are, wanting them to be a surprise, for those who attend.
Some new costumed characters will be on hand to greet the children this year. There’s Skye and Chase from Paw Patrol, along with Angry Birds, Hello Kitty, and the popular Batman and Storm Trooper.
The Doll Hospital will be in full operation during the carnival, and kids are invited to bring their dolls, or teddy bears, for treatment of “injuries”. Kids can also purchase a teddy bear on site.
There will be new prizes available in the “toy store”, and the popular big candy store will be back. Kids can also have their faces painted, or buy two different sizes of helium balloons, all with the tickets they purchase at the door.
Also available for purchase will be the ever popular hot dogs, and nachos and cheese, along with pop and water, cotton candy, and popcorn, sold from the civic centre’s lower canteen.
The IWK committee has joined forces with Ambulance New Brunswick to purchase a bicycle as the grand prize in a colouring contest, which will take place during the carnival. The draw for the bike will take place at the carnival in the afternoon.
Johnston had high praise for Shailer Shepherd, of Ambulance NB, and his colleagues, who she said work very hard at the carnival not only with the contest, but with a remote controlled mini-ambulance, with which the children love to interact.
More than 100 volunteers from throughout the community – middle school students, varsity, and junior varsity high school teams, right up to the oldest volunteer at aged 78 – help for hours setting up the fair Friday night, operating games, and attractions, and then helping to take it all down once it’s over.
“Without this community, without the volunteers, the people who donate their time, this would not be successful,” said Johnston. “It takes a village for sure, when it comes to these events.
“It’s fantastic, and our committee appreciates every single person that helps out, whether financially, or with the things that they donate, to actually working there Friday night from 3:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., or all day Saturday.
“This committee, our families, our community, our volunteers … there’s no words that I could use to say how thankful I am.”
Johnston said some of the committee members have had children who had to be treated at the IWK Hospital, “and all of us know a child who needed treatment.”
“It’s heartwarming how much this community, for such a small community, cares. I cannot say thank you enough for this whole community.”
Johnston said she excited, and looking forward to this year’s event.
This is the 12th year her committee of moms has organized the carnival, which Johnston stressed is less about fundraising than it is about giving back to the community.
“It’s a fundraiser, but not a big fundraiser. It’s very expensive to put on, but it’s a way we give back to this community.
“To see the faces of those babies, some of the kids that come in…I get emotional when I talk about it,” said Johnston.
“This is their Disney. For them to get that balloon, and carry that cotton candy, to me it’s worth every ounce of energy that goes into this. It’s a way for these kids to realize there are people out there who care.”
The committee is also selling tickets on two tickets anywhere WestJet flies. “We are thrilled with WestJet,” said Johnston, adding, because the local committee is so small, it didn’t expect the support from the airline.
Tickets for the draw will be sold at the carnival, but the prize won’t be drawn until the IWK’s Choctail Hour, during this year’s Chocolate Fest celebrations.