Local kids have been eagerly awaiting the Athens Lions Club 2014 Kiddie Carnival which opens June 26th. This summer tradition mixes rides for young kids, with bingo and concessions for a fun filled family outing. The sounds of laughter and screams of joy can be heard as kids zoom into the air on the rocket ships, while others create a breeze while circling on the small swings. Others wait in line for delicious favorites including funnel cakes, popcorn and hamburgers. Concessions also include corn dogs, chicken sandwiches, cold drinks, sno cones and dippin dots.
The Athens Lions Club Kiddie Carnival has provided generations of fun for kids and their parents, grandparents and friends. Located at the same site since 1957; it’s a summer pastime for many who now bring their kids out to enjoy the Kiddie Carnival. The Kiddie Carnival will open June 26th, with an opening ceremony at 6:00pm and rides opening around 6:30pm. Each ride is just a 50 cent ticket. Attendance by families from surrounding communities continues to grow as others learn about this Athens summer tradition.
The entertainment opportunities abound with children circling on the small ferris wheel as it takes them up to look over the crowd and then back down. Another favorite ride is the big swings that arch out as the ride picks up speed. Other rides include the old pedal cars filled with toddlers smiling to each other; the carousel turns as kids ride the horses and visit with each other.. The carnival includes the traditional rides such as a roller coaster, parachute rides and even a scrambler where seats rotate as the entire ride turns. A mainstay for any kids who have attended before is the small vintage train that circles on its own track. It carries loads of happy and smiling riders who scream out as they enter the dark train shed.
The Kiddie Carnival is operated by Athens Lions Club members and other countless volunteers. President Mike Besh says “the Kiddie Carnival provides great family entertainment for young kids and families, while helping the Athens Lions Club to raise funds. We would not be able to do this without the countless volunteers and time given by our members”. Assistance to operate the Kiddie Carnival is provided by spouses of club members, the Leo Club, local high school sororities and other civic groups and businesses.
Funds from the Kiddie Carnival are used to fund a scholarship for a deserving Leo Club member, Lions International key focus area of Sight. The Athens Lions Club supports helping those who qualify with sight exams or glasses, as well as collecting used eyeglasses to be recycled. In the past year they have contributed in excess of $4,200 to Alabama Lions Sight Conservation Association and $1,000 to Camp Seale Harris, a camp for youth with diabetes.
The club, through manpower or funding, has provided assistance to Learn to read council, Athens Limestone United Way Disaster Relief Fund, Athens Grease Festival and the Athens Storytelling Festival. The big train has been taken to numerous civic events including riding in the Athens Christmas parade. It is the generous support of the Kiddie Carnival that allows these programs and community support by the Athens Lions Club.
The Kiddie Carnival is located across from Athens Middle School at 309 E Forrest Street. It is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night June 26 through August 2(CLOSED JULY 4TH), 6:30pm-9:30pm. Additional information about the Kiddie Carnival can be found at http://e-clubhouse.org/sites/athensal/ or their Facebook page: Athens Lions Club Kiddie Carnival.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner