For some, this is the Halloween season. For others, it is time to celebrate the harvest and change of seasons.
For many schools and the volunteers who help them thrive, it is time to begin school carnivals for fun and profit.
The fall season got off to a rousing start Friday, when three central Kenai Peninsula schools invited the community in for family-oriented food, frolic and games. More fun lies ahead, regardless of your creed.
Kalifonsky Christian School hosted a "Wild West Carnival," including a "rodeo" for young buckaroos on stick horses and a talent show by some of its 23 elementary-age students.
"It was so cute," said Vickie Edelman, science teacher, fund-raising coordinator and parent volunteer at the school just outside Kenai.
Highlights included a pie-in-the-face auction targeting teachers and other good sports and attempts to lasso caribou antlers.
Ginny Smith makes Falon McGahan, 4, a star during the night's festivities. McGahan and her sister arrived as princesses.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"It's not as hard as it looks," she said.
The tomfoolery had a serious side. It drew an estimated 200 people and netted about $1,000.
"It was very important," she said. "It was to raise money for books and supplies. I think we did fairly well."
A few miles away, Mountain View Elementary School held its 11th annual Halloween carnival at the same time.
School Secretary Darolyn Brown said it seemed like thousands of people came.
"It was very, very crowded. I would say it was one of our best," she said.
The carnival is a team effort between the staff and PTA, which sponsors it. The PTA uses proceeds for school supplies, field trips and other educational perks, but profitability is secondary to helping others benefit, she stressed.
The Kenai Central High School sophomore class did the haunted house; student council had a bake sale and the fifth-graders ran bingo games. Those student groups kept the money they earned for their own projects, she said.
"We do it more as a service and for the kids. We spend more on prizes for the kids because we want them to have something nice," Brown said.
Over in Soldotna, Redoubt Elementary School mixed seasonal themes.
"We had a fun fest, and the theme was Halloween and fall," said school secretary Elena Horton.
One class sponsored a haunted house, and students made crafts such as masks and trick-or-treat bags.
"It was really busy this time. I think 99 percent of our kids stayed," she said.
Organizers at the schools were unanimous that carnivals are a huge amount of work. The biggest challenge is finding enough volunteers to share the workload.
"It seems that every year we struggle," said Dawn Brower, PTA president at Nikiski Elementary. "This year we have had the largest carnival committee that we've had in several years.
However, the hard work pays off. Last year, she estimated her school's carnival attracted nearly 400 people and netted $5,300 for the PTA.
"The whole community is always very supportive. We totally appreciate all their support," she said.
Others agreed the effort is worthwhile because of that community support, fund-raising success and the wholesome family enjoyment.
Edelman, for one, already is looking forward to next year's carnival.
"It's fun," she said.
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