The Church of St. Joan of Arc’s 43rd annual carnival commenced Monday, Aug. 27 without any issues, despite the threat of rainy weather.
“Some people came every night of the week to eat, and some gave up vacation to work here. The committee plans all year long for this event,” said Monsignor Richard LaVerghetta.
The carnival’s booths, rides and food and beer garden are run strictly by volunteers, including both members of the parish and residents of the surrounding communities.
“The fact that we can get 437 people to work our carnival is phenomenal,” said Joann Aucello, co-chairperson of the carnival along with Cheryl Wilkins. “We have a lot of kids that work [the carnival], we like to keep them busy. If they own the place a bit, they’re less likely to vandalize and get in trouble.”
The carnival was scheduled to run from Aug. 27 through Sept. 1, two days shorter than previous years.
“Last year we had to cut [the carnival] short because of hurricane Irene. We had to take everything down and put it back up, and we were so successful with six days we thought, ‘lets try it this year,’” said Aucello
Local country radio station 92.5 WXTU made an appearance on Aug. 30, a first for both the station and the carnival.
“We wanted to do something a little different. It’s big for us,” said Aucello.
The volunteers cover approximately 700 shifts over six days and are approached in April to begin planning. Additionally, volunteers construct necessary structures for the carnival’s operation.
“Over the winter, Jack Daniels, Rich Robertson and Jack Jackson built as much as they could that was able to be stored indoors. About two and a half weeks before carnival, they were joined by the rest of the team who put up the fences, built the stage and 50/50 tower, erected the all the kitchens and counters. Concurrently, Brendan Noone, worked with a team to turn on the lights and all the other electricity,” Aucello said.
“Once the school year ends, I put together a volunteer list and we break it up into kitchen, games, ride selling and 50/50 and car parkers — that’s the most important job. The whole community comes out to support this, whether building it, running it or taking part in it,” Aucello said.
The money raised supports the St. Joan of Arc School and the parish, while other fundraisers, organized by the PTA, are held throughout the year support local charities in the surrounding area and overseas.
“Our PTA runs a craft fair in November. They run a casino night or some sort of a basket auction in the spring. They run product fundraisers throughout the year. Our PTA is a very busy group of people. We not only support ourselves but we also support a school in India, the St. Joan of Arc School for Integral Development,” Aucello said.
St. Joan of Arc celebrated its 50th anniversary as a parish and 43 of the 50 years of operation, the carnival has been in operation to support the parish and the 400 students in attendance at the school.
“For 43 years the people of Marlton have been ending their summer by coming together and celebrating. It’s an important part of our parish, it’s an important part of our community,” said LaVerghetta.