By Louisa Benatovich
There’s nothing like Ellicottville Central School’s Dime Carnival to welcome an Ellicottville spring. Hosted at the school April 12, hundreds attended this annual event that’s fun for the whole family.
This year, the carnival spread out over three spaces: the high school cafeteria, gym and the hallway between. Each room held a variety of games and activities, just enough to fill two hours full of fun.
Sponsored by the PTO and organized by elementary kindergarten teacher Diana Olson, the Dime Carnival has been an ECS tradition for over 20 years.
“The most challenging part is finding volunteers as volunteers are who plan and run all of our events,” she said. “The PTO and all of its events are 100 percent volunteer ran and operated.”
Unfortunately, Olson said they don’t always have enough volunteers to see ideas through or run the events as they’re supposed to be run. To run the events everyone looks forward to attending — Family Fun Night, Mother Son Dance, Field Day, among others — the PTO needs adult volunteers.
“We are often left to heavily rely on our students, but they are often the same students who are involved in many different activities and therefore aren’t always able to be reliable volunteers,” she explained.
Olson said they are grateful for the volunteers who do donate their time, no matter how small or infrequent as every bit helps.
“Next school year we hope to encourage families to have one adult family member volunteer at each of our events, examples of adult family volunteers being: parents, grandparents, older children,” she said.
If adult family members choose one PTO event, Olson said it would greatly increase their ability to offer events that are more fun and run more efficiently. Volunteers do not have to attend all or even any meetings to be a volunteer; and being one does not mean working every entire event.
There is also a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ work that takes place, Olson said, such as shopping, creating, collecting, set-up and clean-up to name a few.
“Because the PTO is volunteer run, we are so very thankful to those who have given their time – past and present,” she added. “Our volunteers come in many forms: parents, grandparents, teachers, students, community members. We truly appreciate all that you do for our school and organization.”
IN THE CAFETERIA, a variety of food items were sold, including cotton candy, popcorn and chips. There were craft tables and the ever-popular Fish Bowl, where real fish prizes were up for grabs.
The Carnival’s favorite Cake Walk was a hit, too. Students and parents walked away with decadent desserts heaped with frosting and sprinkles. It was just enough sugar to get the parents through until the end of the night.
In the adjacent hallway, a veritable spa operation was in full swing. The face painting table was constantly filled. With both girls and boys getting the typical butterfly on the cheek, it was truly a pleasure to behold.
Behind that, a nail painting studio was getting a lot of business. After getting their nails done, little girls would get their hair braided and detangled by the amateur high school hairdressers that had volunteered for the event.
The high school gym housed the real carnival games, with the perennial favorite Dime Pitch at the center of the action. The constant cling-clang of small change falling into donated cups and mugs added to the symphony of children’s screams echoing in the facility.
In one corner, a beautiful bounce house beckoned all with its turrets and windows. Its constant hum was a reminder that I am now too old to indulge in such a pleasure. Other activities included hula hooping, hockey, golfing and bean bag toss. Prizes were available for all.
On the gym’s stage lay the most inviting of all prizes: the basket raffle. Parents and children placed tickers in carefully chosen receptacles in the hopes of winning baskets donated by parents, teachers, and local businesses.
With over 30 baskets to choose, there were a lot of happy winners that night. Some highlights included local gift cards, activity sets for children of all ages and food.
Mackenzie Noga, a fifth grader, thoroughly enjoyed the Carnival.
“My favorite part of the night was the cotton candy,” she said, smiling. “…and getting my hair done.” She felt obligated to add this as I brushed her hair.
Daliana Velazquez, also present, agreed that the cotton candy was her favorite part, too. This sentiment seemed to resound with all age-groups in attendance. It is clear that aerated and dyed sugar is always a win…and that fun at the Dime Carnival transcends all ages.
The ECS PTO would like to thank all of the volunteers who made it possible to pull off the 2019 Dime Carnival. They wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.
Becky Kruszynski for once again providing our kiddos with the delicious, free cotton candy.
Lisa and Gwen DeChane for teaching our students how to hula hoop — this was a new addition and the kids loved it.
The following businesses donated to our Chinese Auction: Monroe Street Brick and Brew, Subway, Holiday Valley, Watson’s, Kwik Fill, Credit Union, JD Northrup Construction, Holimont, Kazoo II, RMF Books, Wingate, Ellicottville Brewing Company, Ava Grace Fashions, The Jonny Barber Shop, Alexandra, EVL Tattoo, Adventure Bound, Tee Bar, Ellicottville Aquatics, Steel Bound Brewery & Distillery, The Edge Hair Salon, Posh- Christie Winship, Shults Resale Center of Olean and Karen Hayes from the Western New York Girl Scouts.
To the ECS PTO who continuously shares their ideas, time and resources, thank you!