Contributing to the successful outcome was a team of parent-volunteers led this year by Carnival Co-Chairs Kaki Jenkins and Laura Scorey, with May Burke and Anna Williams acting as Carnival assistants, ready to take over the lead roles next year. Kaki says, “We were obviously extremely bummed out when we realized we would have to delay due to all the rain, but it really ended up being a blessing in disguise because the weather could not have been more perfect, which made it that much more enjoyable for everyone!”
It certainly was a gorgeous day, and the timing worked out perfectly. Parents waking up kids for school on the first day back after a holiday know that they can sometimes be faced with sleepy/reluctant risers, but with the quick reminder, “Remember, Carnival is after school today,” little feet hit the ground running this year! Students donned their newly designed “We’re Back!” LMS Carnival shirts and carried that energy all the way through the school day and out onto the front lawn at dismissal to find their class banners and begin the parade to the Town Commons.
At the head of the parade were the freshly-crowned Carnival King and Queen, Findley Beasley and Turner Allen. These two students earned their spots at the front of the procession by being the top-selling boy and girl in the Hamilton County Kids First Coupon Book fundraiser this year, and what a procession they led! Chants of “Car-ni-val! Car-ni-val!” echoed through the mountain streets as students, teachers, parents, and friends made their way to the event. Kaki said this was her personal favorite part of the day because “the excitement and energy was palpable,” and the kids’ “happiness and eagerness to jump right in made it all worth it!” Back in March, LMS PTA president Mandy Hickey was looking ahead to the coming schoolyear, and she commented that “seeing the students marching so boldly to the Commons with their banners” was one of her greatest hopes for this year. It truly was wonderful that everything was able to come together.
To get to those moments of sheer joy takes a massive amount of work behind the scenes. The Carnival team planned for months to get booths arranged, volunteers in place to work them, food and beverages stocked, and other donations gathered. Students participated in classroom contests to see who could donate the most items for the Carnival Costume booth, Callie’s Cuddles stuffed animal booth, and Jamboree Jars booth, and both parents and community members cooked special treats for the always-popular Carnival Kitchen.
Anne Carr skillfully helmed Carnival Kitchen again this year. “The kitchen was a huge success. Despite the rain delay and moving carnival to after fall break, all of our parents and families made the kitchen a priority, and all our fresh baked goods and casseroles came in on time. Pre-orders were a huge success, and by the end of Carnival, every single item was sold! We wish we had more to sell! Favorites included Candy Killebrew’s cinnamon rolls, Kakhi Wakefield’s Indian curry, and Jill Allen’s black bean and sweet potato enchiladas. We are thankful for all the food contributions and those who purchased them!”
In addition to treats from Carnival Kitchen, kids enjoyed spending tokens at booths supplying crazy hair dye, glitter tattoos, silly string, fake casts, balloon animals, sunglasses, and funny umbrella hats. They took great pride in seeing their class mural paintings on display at the Marketplace. They ran out their energy on a variety of inflatable bounce houses and obstacles, and they put their feet up for a rest on the hayride. They rode ponies like pros, and they tested their luck winning prizes at the Duck Pond, Gone Fishing, and Pirate Boat Race booths. A new addition this year that was a big hit was the Photo Booth, where folks wearing comical outfits and were captured in sweet photo strips. When people got hungry, they snacked on decorated cookies, popcorn, ice cream, sno-cones, and cotton candy; when they got really hungry, they enjoyed Chick-fil-A nuggets and sandwiches, Mr. T’s pizza, and Good Dog hot dogs, along with plenty of cold waters and sodas. And if the law (or their buddies) called them out, the students would head to Carnival Jail, hilariously overseen by Paul Daniel and Michael Love, who donned wigs and jumpsuits for the occasion and provided great music and endless entertainment. As Kaki put it, “The kids were literally climbing the walls of the jail, and it was clearly one of the top attractions of the day!”
As the Carnival wound down and parents loaded up tired kiddos to head home (vaguely wondering if the silly string and spray paint would ever come out of hair and clothes), there was a feeling of contentment that spread throughout the scene. Everyone was so happy to celebrate this event as a school and a community. The kids looked forward to one more special treat the next morning, as Principal Ruth White had declared it to be a school-wide pajama day. A little bit tired (and maybe with a little bit of hair dye still showing through), they showed up to discuss the wonderful memories they had made. Congratulations to the whole Carnival team, and THANK YOU to the volunteers, town employees, and community members who all contributed to making this event such a success!
by Meredith Brown