Having a good time for a good cause

DOLLAR BAY – With faces painted and dinosaur-balloon hats rising above the throng, area children with parents in tow packed the Dollar Bay High School gym Friday evening for the Dollar Bay/Tamarack City Area Schools’ annual Spring Carnival.

For the kids, there was a wide variety of home-spun carnival games, from dry-land fishing to dart tossing to Plinko. At each attraction, children had a chance to win tokens they could trade for a variety of prizes.

“Getting the prizes, that’s the mission,” laughed Jessica Maki, mother to one of the children on that quest.

There were prizes for adults as well, up for grabs in a somewhat less-frenzied raffle, as well as pizza and popcorn to fuel the event.

For Mallory Laurn, 8, the games and prizes were great, but her favorite part was “probably the face painting.”

The carnival was a fundraiser for the district’s 2015 senior band trip to Chicago, and band members, who manned each of the kids games, agreed it was a fun way to raise money for the trip.

Ricky Greub, a sophomore trombone player in the band, said he likes “just coming out and having a good time with the kids.”

“They always seem to enjoy it, every year,” he added.

Kendra Lahikainen, a freshman percussionist and carnie-for-the-day, admitted she was fairly forgiving while running the dart game, where kids toss darts to pop balloons and win tokens – or toss errant darts that end up stuck in the floor.

“They’ll laugh, I’ll laugh. I’ll let them keep trying and they’ll do it,” she said.

The band members were also looking forward to the trip itself, even if it’s still a couple of summers away. Stops on the trip will likely include a Broadway-style show, a major league baseball game and a ride to the top of the Willis – formerly Sears – Tower.

For Lahikainen, though, the best part will be “just having some time off together after working hard throughout the school year.”

Band teacher and event organizer Paula McKaig said the students earn the trip with their hard work marching and preparing for concerts and musicals.

She said the prizes donated by the community, supportive parents and Naomi Haycock’s ever-popular balloon animals also help to make the event a success.

She’s been involved in running the Carnival for 22 years, she said, ever since she joined the district.

“It’s been happening a long time, and I think a lot of people look forward to it,” she said.

Lynn Barrette, a Dollar Bay trombone-playing alumnus now returning to the Carnival as a parent, said she’s been able to trace the event back at least 36 years, though she believes its history probably stretches back even further.

“I remember winning some big prizes,” she said, including one year when a local contractor carpeted a room of her house as a raffle prize.

She does miss one event, however, a sponge toss where kids got to soak their teachers tossing soggy sponges from a distance.

All in all, she said, “It’s a fun tradition, the kids love it, all the money goes to a good cause.”