Nativity Carnival: 30 years of family fun for the community

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on June 9, 2010

Teenage girl at Nativity Carnival in Menlo Park

2011 UPDATE: This year’s Nativity Carnival is Friday-Sunday, June 10-12. More details here!

The Nativity Carnival, which has come to mark the end of the school year and start of summer for the entire community of Menlo Park, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It gets underway this Friday (6/11) running from 5:00 to 11:00 pm. Hours on Saturday and Sunday are noon to 11:00 pm and noon to 6:00 pm. There will be the usual mix of carnival rides and games, food, and live music. Admission is free.

InMenlo caught up with this year’s Carnival chair Mike Cherry along with past Chairs who provide their thoughts on why this event, which benefits Nativity School, has proved so enduring.

Mike Cherry, current Carnival chair:
“This is only my fourth year involving with the carnival. From my point of view, the crnival has endured because of the dedication and support of the parish and school – and because it’s fun.  The Nativity Men’s Club provides the muscle to make the setup run smoothly.  The  volunteers – largely  parents of kids at the school but also parish members – ensure that the carnival works well. The community comes back year after year because it is a major event with great amusement rides, musical acts, food and kid games.”

Past chair Paul Hernandez:
“I’d say it has endured because of the dedication and involvement of the parish and community volunteers. The carnival is successful because it is a family event!”

Past chair Pat O’Hare:
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have volunteered for all 29 previous carnivals and beyond the great rides, food, games and entertainment we provide, what’s key to our success and longevity is we offer the entire community a safe, family-centric place to spend the day. People (not just parishioners) feel welcome when they come to our carnival and they realize we provide a great value for their dollar – pretty important in times like this. There aren’t too many events around where there’s something for the whole family, where the kids can safely go on rides and play games while the adults might be enjoying fresh clams and bruschetta, sipping some wine or a margarita, while listening to great entertainment sitting under the shade of a majestic oak tree. It paints a nice picture, doesn’t it!”

From past Chair Bill Gutgsell:
“Nativity Carnival signals the end of the school year, the beginning of summer break and is a destination meeting place for much of Menlo Park and surrounding communities. And it doesn’t just cater to the Nativity community. Those outside the Nativity school and parish community also gather at the carnival.

“Maybe  they’ll  see old friends and acquaintances whom they haven’t seen for some time. Maybe they’ve come to listen to other local  schools’ music programs which are often invited to provide quality entertainment. Maybe its because of the great food, rides, music and fun in a great setting.

“Having had the honor and pleasure to assist with the Nativity Carnival for nearly 20 years, I can say that the reason I have come back year after year is the same reason that others who have assisted do. It’s because of the people, the camaraderie, and the sense of community. Example: Last year my  brother-in-law, vacationing from Chicago, joined my brother and I in our food booth. He had so much fun, he’ll be back again this year to cook for all three days! How committed (or nuts) is that!

“Finally, it’s great to see kids who have grown to adulthood who now bring their kids to the carnival. Priceless!”

Photos of the 2009 Nativity Carnival by Scott Loftesness. If you get some great shots of this year’s carnival, consider uploading them to the InMenlo Photo Pool on Flickr.

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