|Posted by Anne Siren on March 1, 2013 at 3:40 AM|
By Judy Wilson
Deerfield Beach –This time of year at St. Ambrose Church, Father Bryan Dalton’s joke is that the people who stage the annual food fest, midway, rides and entertainment love it so much they will “run off with the carnival.” Indeed, the same crew of volunteers have been putting on the event for 19 years with such dedication that some take their annual vacations so they can devote a week or two to their volunteer duties.
“Our dearest friends and anyone else that loves us, knows they have to do this,” said Gail Kammerer, chairperson from the beginning when she had kids at St. Ambrose School. “Some have been at the same work station for the 19 years.”
Many of those 750 volunteers see people at carnival they don’t see all year. When it is all over, Kammerer, said, ”We have carnival withdrawal.”
This massive fundraiser will be held Feb. 28 through March 3 on the school grounds at 380 S. Federal Highway. Hildebrand Rides, Inc. will again supply the thrills, on Saturday at 7 p.m. Father Dalton will be arrested and fair goers will pay to either get him out of jail, or keep him in, a new Tiki bar will open opposite the food court, raffles worth $1,500 and $2,500 will be held, and the music begins Thursday at 6 p.m and goes to Sunday at 9 p.m.
Kammerer’s goal is to raise $100,000. She almost made it last year.
That money is 10 percent of the school’s budget said Music Minister Bob Colasanti who is also general manager of the parish. Some of the money raised is being designated for a large pavilion to be used for school activities and the carnival’s food court. With a projected cost of $600,000, that promise is still several years away, Colasanti said.
Fran Bannon, sales and catering manager at the Bridge Hotel, has been chair of the food court since the carnival was conceived. At the time, her children were very young and enrolled in St. Ambrose School but she has stayed with the job ever since. Why? “I have to support the school. My children were afforded an incredible education. They [the school staff] were my partners in raising my children to be wonderful people,” she said.
Bannon normally takes a two-week vacation to oversee preparation of all the food that is served at the carnival. There are no vendors here. Menu items are cooked in the school kitchen or on grills and griddles at the food stations. “We have willing weekend warriors and teams of the same people on the food line every year,” she said.
Without the support of St. Ambrose parishioners, the carnival could not be accomplished. They donate all manner of things necessary to bring off the event from catsup to cooking equipment, to knives and forks. “Our school is very small,” Bannon said. “Parishioners support the carnival whether they have kids in the school, or not. We could not do it without them.”
What more keeps Bannon heading up this vital component of the carnival? “Well, Father Dalton,” she said.”He’s our rock star… an amazing human being.”
This is a special year for all the parishioners at St. Ambrose. It marks the half century of the church and school. Father Dalton has been there 44 of those years. A 50th anniversary album is being assembled with photos of all the parish members. The big event will be a dinner dance this spring.
Things to know about the St. Ambrose Carnival
Carnival wristbands are $15 on Thursday [with coupon], $20 on Friday, $30 on Saturday and $25 on Sunday. Buy one by Feb. 27, and a $20 band is good for any day.
Entertainment Thursday – 6 to 10 p.m., Friday- 5:30 to 11 p.m., Saturday, 1 to 11 p.m., Sunday, 1 to 9 p.m.
For details, search St. Ambrose Carnival. Also on line is a wish list of items to be donated, a complete list of the carnival rides, and the names of the carnivals major