Spin! Ring! Reel 'em in! Those are my simple expectations of a family carnival. But little girl guests often have others. And they are not afraid to express them!
A few years back, Tava was fully confident that she'd be bringing home a "live rabbit" from our inaugural event. This year, one of Bree's little posse from pre-school asked if a Ferris wheel would be among the attractions on grandma's front lawn! Bree herself had a much simpler vision. She declared she'd share her popcorn with Nana, her paternal grandma. "We are going to eat from the same bag!" she told me, eyes popping bright and blue with excitement. Now that expectation was a cinch to fulfill. And Tava did hop away happy with a cute stuffed bunny. But still wondering how to sneak a Ferris wheel into a residential neighborhood so that my goal of "everyone's a winner!" stays alive!
I do think we kept everybody spinning, ringing, smiling and happy this year, and I invite you now to join me as 26 lively little guests, their parents and a handful of grandparents enjoy 19 attractions at our third Family Carnival held July 26, 2014 at 5 PM at my home. Welcome along!
First stop. Ticket Booth. Party bags are collected here, tagged brightly with names of each guest. Tied to the handle are long strips of game tickets. One-page programs describe each attraction and include an invitation to pop inside the house any old time to grab a hot dog and chips snack.
Many of the games are repeats; favorites from the past. But they are new to the very youngest grandkids and to their friends who attended for the first time this year.
Little ladies again discover something fancy to wear at the "You Are So Pretty" booth. This year we offer butterfly visors and little pink jelly purses stuffed with neon bracelets, rings and nail polish for older girls.
The youngest princesses find fancy gossamer fairy wings. These Dollar Tree delights are embellished with silk flowers and a flourish of shiny tulle ribbon. So pretty! - and so are the little ladies who flutter about in them all evening long!
"Alien Invasion" is back for a third time. Popularity of the theme begged for an added game of skill, making it necessary to designate an "Area 51" to accommodate both of them.
Clear plastic eggs, home to creepy little glow-in-the-dark aliens floating in out-of-this-world slime are this year's prizes.
"Knock 'em Out!" Little boys lined up to bowl down silvery alien pins that not only light up, but emit weird outer space noises when they are struck with a purple plastic ball. Inflated mini aliens go home with every winner.
One of my personal favorites, also a repeat, is the Hamster Wheel - a carnival toy I covered and decorated to suit the theme. Kids take a spin and match their numbers. A box of "hamster food" in the form of cute candy accompanies their new little pocket pet!
When the darts you use are the sticky variety, even the youngest guests get a bang out of "bursting balloons" - and winning a brightly colored slinky for their efforts!
Ava and Angeline weren't born yet when "Goldfish Splash" made its debut, but the twins have no trouble putting their cute little heads together to figure out that flipping plastic fish into bowls is the way to earn a bubble wand.
Lots of ambiance from an endless stream of bubbles pumped from a hidden battery operated machine!
Our lovely youngest daughter, Karen, welcomes you to "Monkey Smackdown" during the early family preview hour. Full attention is given to grandkids during this time, freeing parents to become workers after everyone else arrives.
This game is one of the first I constructed three years ago when a family carnival was nothing more than a sketchbook full of ideas. Paper mache trees tower seven feet tall and sparkle brilliantly in the sun. Kids smack a pyramid of cans with plastic bananas to win monkey shaped squirt guns and crazy little neon stuffed gorillas. Two strings of these spunky characters, pinned up and frolicking on the trees, watch the action and wait to see who will choose them!
My attempt to fit a panoramic view of the entire carnival site into one photo frame was unsuccessful. And so was fitting the entire story into one blog post. Here's where you'll find the rest of this scene and lots, lots more of Family Carnival 2014!