Home Cinnaminson News ‘Always a great carnival’

‘Always a great carnival’

St. Charles Borromeo's annual tradition draws a crowd

As the annual St. Charles Borromeo Carnival in Cinnaminson was opening on the warm evening of June 12, families were already walking there from cars parked a quarter of mile away.

Using the Ferris Wheel as their North Star, kids excitedly strode up Branch Pike attracted by the music, flashing lights and the aroma of food. By 6:30, the church grounds were packed with people mingling with old friends and children waiting to go on rides like The Zipper, Starship 2000 and 1001 Arabian Nights.

Other families enjoyed dinners at outside picnic tables or trying to win prizes at Boardwalk-like games of chance.

“This is always a great carnival,” said Joe Scattaregia, a former men’s softball player who was there with his wife Meghan and their daughter Frankie, who was happily waiting in line with her friend Elliot McGowan to go on the merry-go-round.

In between the many games of chance was the shaved water ice booth run by parish volunteers Denise Dalbey, Bob Veitz and Ginny Veight.

“The carnival is wonderful,” said Veight. “This is my second year volunteering.”

The carnival requires an army of volunteers who started setting up trailers in the church parking lot on May 7. New chairpersons are selected annually, and this year’s leaders Claire and Joe Purcell chose the carnival’s theme, Hoop it Up. Their daughter, Emma Sweeney, helped them out by selling advanced ride tickets at events like Cinnaminson Day.

“I was a St. Charles student,” she recalled. “I liked the Kiddie Corner, the food tents and the ice cream social. I have been volunteering at the carnival since I was in sixth grade.”

The first carnival and its humble beginnings began in 1969, and the chairperson was a Mr. E. Tinney. Over its 55-year history, it has grown tremendously and draws people from not only Cinnaminson but Palmyra, Riverton, Delran, Moorestown and other local towns.

It is also one of the main revenue sources for the Saint Charles Church and its religious programs at St. Charles School.

“Not only is it a great social event for both the parish and local community, but it is also one of the main ways the parish funds its various ministries and St. Charles School,” notes the church website. “It is a wonderful place to have a good time playing games, winning prizes, riding rides, and eating great food.

“It is also a time for people to get to know each other and the community better.”

The carnival runs from 6 to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. But another annual tradition is a Kiddie Carnival held during the afternoon on Friday of carnival week.

Before the parish was founded on Sept. 28, 1961 to meet the demands of the growing population in Cinnaminson, some Catholic families were members of Sacred Heart Church in Riverton and sent their children to the elementary school there. St. Charles’ first Masses were held at Memorial School.

The cornerstone for the new St. Charles Borromeo Church and School was put in place on Nov. 3, 1963, to the delight of parishioners and the parish’s first pastor, Rev. Francis V. McCusker.

As the carnival has grown into a major spring event in Burlington County, the parish facilities have also experienced growth that includes an Adoration Chapel; a pre-K building; a parish office building and meeting hall; a prayer garden; and The Barn, all serving roughly 2,200 families and many ministries.

Not to mention a carnival that is a slice of Americana.

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