Update: The carnival opens at 2 p.m. on Sunday
The idea of an annual carnival may have started out as a fundraiser for the Congers Fire Department, but over eight years the event has grown into a favorite local event that keeps getting bigger every year.
Although the weather hasn't been cooperating, the volunteers of the Congers Fire Department are still hoping this year's carnival will be the best one yet due in part to the recent completion of the Congers Lake walkway. With the expansion of the lakeside trail, firefighters say more people will be able to enjoy the Sunday night fireworks that are part of the carnival.
Congers Fire Department member Mike Graziano said the fireworks this year are being shot off over the lake. Previously, the fireworks were shot off from behind a gas station across the street from the Congers firehouse on Lake Road.
"A lot more people should be able to see the fireworks because they will be over the lake," said Graziano, who has been a volunteer with the fire department since 1988.
The carnival, with rides, games and food booths, was set to begin Thursday night on the Veterans Memorial Association of Congers field just off Lake Road at Harrison Avenue in Congers. However, the torrential rains and flooding that hit Rockland Thursday led the fire department to postpone the start of the carnival until today.
The carnival is scheduled to run from 6 to 11 tonight, and from 4 to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The fireworks show is set for 9:15 p.m. on Sunday.
"The carnival has really grown into a community event," said Graziano. "People now look forward to the carnival every year and it brings everyone together."
Congers resident Ann Marie Smith, a former Clarkstown Town Board member, agrees that the carnival has taken on a special meaning in the hamlet.
"You see families coming out together, walking down the street to the carnival," Smith said. "The fire department works very hard on the carnival and they do a great job with it."
Smith said there are not many large community events based in Congers, so the fire department carnival draws many local residents.
Graziano said he and other volunteers are proud the carnival has become a favorite local event. However, Graziano notes that the carnival and fireworks have become increasingly expensive and he hopes that people who attend will remember that it is a fundraiser to support the efforts of the fire department.
As part of the fundraising effort, the fire department has created a special container painted with a fire department theme to collect donations during the carnival. Graziano said firefighters are hoping carnival visitors will give a little extra to help their cause.