Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jess Paniszczyn
As if by divine intervention, mild weather brought relief from the scorching summer heat on just in time for the St. Ann Community Carnival held Sep. 7-9. A tradition for 20 years in Coppell, the carnival offered a variety of rides for both young and old as well as kiddyland games, festival foods, entertainment, a craft tent, silent auction and of course, bingo.
Waiting in line to ride the mechanical bull, Hiresh Hira said he and his family have attended the carnival for the last 10 yrs.
“The carnival is great this year, especially with the weather. We like the kids’ events and the carnival rides. But my favorite part is the food. And it is great that the carnival is within walking distance from our house.
“The carnival is good family fun. It’s fun during the day, and it’s fun at night too. We enjoy coming at night when there is a different atmosphere with live bands and music.”
But not everyone who attended the carnival lived as close by as the Hira family.
“We live in Plano, and my brother and sister-in-law live in Coppell, and they invited us to the carnival,” Julie Hendry said. “I used to live in Coppell, and it has probably been 15 years since I have been to a St. Ann’s carnival. It has really grown and expanded.
“It is really fun watching the kids have fun and going on the rides. I like going to the vendors and seeing what they have to sell.”
For many in the community, the carnival has become a yearly family event.
“We have made the carnival an annual tradition, and this is our third year,” said Leslie Gray. “We always have a good time. I just enjoy walking around and seeing everybody, and my five year old daughter likes the kiddie games.”
A carnival volunteer for the past 16 years, Mark Luenser served as carnival chair for the fifth time this year.
“We moved here around the time of the carnival, and my wife signed me up for a three hour shift,” Luenser said. “They found out that I have a food background, and I was running food the next year.
“There are about 1,900 volunteer shifts during the carnival. Each shift is about three hours and volunteers work with the silent auction, bingo, food, kiddyland, craft tents, entertainment, set up and clean up. We utilize a ton of volunteers.
“We cook the food ourselves. We buy it, prepare it and sell it. So we get 100 percent of the profit from that. The Kiddyland games are ours, and we charge 50 cents for each game. So that is also a money maker. Typically the carnival generates about $200,000 and about $100,000 of that is net.
“Through the carnival we donate to the local food bank, the police department, fire department, North Texas Food Bank, Metrocrest and a lot of different programs that support the community. We are also able to raise money for other parishes in Dallas that are not as affluent.
“The carnival runs so smoothly, and it is so much fun to see the accomplishment we achieve at the end.”