Step right up, the carnival is coming to town
If you see a truck full of smiling dragons passing through town, get ready. It's the carnival coming.
The Wilton Rotary Club's annual Family Carnival opens Friday evening, Sept. 14, from 6 to 10, at the tennis courts at the corner of Route 7 and School Road. The carnival will continue Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15-16.
This is about the 23rd year the Rotary Club has presented the carnival, according to Rotarian Pat Russo, who has run the event for the last few years. He is also the club's chair of community service.
New at the carnival this year will be greater and improved food offerings.
"For the first time we are expecting at least five food wagons," Mr. Russo said, In the past, the Rotary has sold hot dogs, but this year the club is turning food sales over to the pros: Pizzevia Brick Oven Pizza, MiniVinny Barbeque, Teaves Tea Company and Short and Sweet Cupcakes.
"All these are local area vendors that are supporting the Rotary Club," he said.
One mainstay will be the ride and game operator, Tufano Amusement Company of Cheshire. The family-run concern has been in business 23 years and has been coming to Wilton for close to 20 years, a company spokesman said.
Probably the most popular ride with carnival-goers is The Avalanche, and that will be back along with a Ferris wheel, giant slide, carousel, the Sizzler, Castle Mania, and those Dizzy Dragons as well as at least a half-dozen more ways to shake and spin a human body. There will be rides for big and little kids alike, Mr. Russo said.
Those with a competitive spirit may try their hand at a collection of games including the Water Race, Frog Bog, Wack a Mole, dart games and more.
The carnival is the biggest fund-raiser for the club, whose motto is "service above self." Rotary fingers are crossed for good weather.
"The money raised this year, we'll give away next year," Mr. Russo said. "Typically we can give away $25,000 to $30,000 a year," an impressive number for a club with 38 members. "We are totally focused on serving the Wilton community."
One of the club's biggest projects, Mr. Russo said, is the installation of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in the homes of qualifying senior citizens.
"We go in under the guidance of the fire department and look at what detectors they need," he said. "We've been doing this for six years and have installed over 380 units."
Club members go back every year to check on the models and make sure they are still working.
"It's an ongoing program to look after the seniors in town," Mr. Russo said. The club works with Wilton Social Services in identifying seniors for the program.
The club works with Social Services in a number of areas, including making donations to the Wilton Interfaith Food Pantry and fuel fund.
Other organizations that have benefited from Rotary grants include the Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps, CERT, Wilton Library, the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Open Door Shelter, a student exchange program, and scholarships for high school students.
The club has also made significant donations to Wilton Commons including $2,500 that was matched at the Rotary district level for automated external defibrillators, and a pledge of $10,000 for refrigerators and microwaves once Wilton Commons is built.
The club disburses grants each May and November; application deadlines are 30 days prior. The club considers grants to qualified, local nonprofit organizations that have no other major means of support. "We want to see where the money is going," Mr. Russo said.
Applications are online at wiltonrotaryclub.org.