Putting the ‘fun’ in fundraising

WTHS marching band carnival returns

Destini Allen, left, Nino Aquino, Briana Sudler, Adam Elamani and Davion Allen work one of the carnival games at the Washington Township marching band carnival on July 9. (Anthony J. Mazziotti III/The Sun)

There’s something about a carnival that brings a certain level of nostalgia to people. From the smell of funnel cake and the rocking seat on the Ferris wheel to the stickiness of cotton candy and the games to win a cheap stuffed animal, there’s something for everyone to put a smile on even the grumpiest face.

The Washington Township High School marching band hosted its annual carnival from July 8-13 at the high school. The carnival’s goal is to raise money while providing an outlet for residents and non-residents alike to have a night out and have a good time in the name of fundraising.

“One of the things we hope to have happen is, we give the community an opportunity to have a night out,” band director Calvin Spencer said. “Them having a night out and having some fun turns into money that comes in to the band that we can use for band trips, equipment, different things like that. It’s a wonderful experience.”

Two years ago, the marching band performed in the Sugar Bowl parade. The carnival fundraiser helped them accomplish this trip. This year, Spencer has his sights set on a trip to San Diego to perform for the Holiday Bowl.

In many of the booths are band members and their parents. Chris Duym, a junior saxophone player and third-year carnival worker, said his favorite booth to work is the bowling game because it’s fun to explain the game and easy to run while still being able to speak with carnival-goers.

“It’s a lot of fun, you get to meet new people and talk to other people while raising money for a cause that’s near and dear to my heart,” Duym said.

He continued, “It’s a really great opportunity for us. The people who think of the band only think of us from the [Fourth of July] parade and football games. We get to do something that gives back to our community a bit as we put on this pretty fun carnival as well as them helping us raise money for our cause.”

Destini Allen, a junior trumpet player, is also in her third year of volunteering at the carnival. She said her favorite game to work is the water gun game because it attracts a lot of people.

“It’s nice to see the little kids’ faces – they’re really surprised when they win a prize,” she said.

Allen agreed with Duym in that the carnival gives band members a chance to interact with the community.

“I think it’s a great way to raise awareness of what the marching band does,” she added. “I appreciate the community coming out and supporting us.”

The carnival wouldn’t be as successful without people in attendance. Carnival-goers Kristin Shmukler, Lauren Gallagher and Scott Gallagher enjoyed their time at the annual event.

Shmukler, a carnival veteran, said she keeps coming back because her kids enjoy themselves.

“Watch my kids have fun, eat cotton candy and funnel cake,” she said of her favorite things at the carnival.

The 2019 carnival was the first one for the Gallagher family. Scott and Lauren agreed their favorite part was seeing the smile on their kid’s face on the rides. For Lauren, a speech pathologist at the high school, it was fun to see the students put on the event. She added Shmukler and her children attended the pre-school at the high school so it was fun for their children to see the students volunteering.

“I think it’s nice that this is giving back to the community. The money for the tickets, it’s not just paying a carnival, it’s actually a fundraiser,” Scott added.

When the two families’ children stepped off the lady bug ride they spoke about their favorite parts of the carnival. Scotlyn Gallagher and Brooke Shmukler agreed the merry-go-round is the best part, while Lucas Shmukler said the pirate ship is the best.

The Gallaghers said they had fun at the carnival and would return next year.

Keeping community members coming back is the definition of success for Spencer, as he didn’t want to let a dollar amount define a successful carnival.

“I don’t know the actual total, I do know it was one of the most successful carnivals we had,” he said of last year’s carnival. “To be honest I don’t want to ever put a number on it because it’s one of those types of things where it’s more about the community. As long as they’re having fun whatever we make is a bonus for the band.”