The first-ever Evergreen Fall Festival was everything a small-town carnival should be: games, food, music and old-fashioned family fun.
From the bounce houses to the face painting, the magician teaching kids tricks to the Stingers soccer games, the area around Bergen Valley Elementary School was geared for elementary-school-age children to have a ton of fun.
Their parents, in the meantime, tagged along or gathered in small groups to talk with neighbors and friends.
Organizers estimate that 1,200 people, half of them children, attended the event, and the Bergens PTA raised more than $9,000 on its way to trying to raise more than $58,000. The majority will be used for technology in both Bergen Valley and Bergen Meadow, according to Jennifer McGrath, the festival chair.
The carnival has been held for the past seven years as a Bergens-only event, but this year the organizers invited families from all over to join in the fun.
And fun they had.
Children threw small pie tins filled with shaving cream at a school wall adorned with photos of the Bergens’ principals. The kids really didn’t care what they were aiming at — they just wanted to play with the messy shaving cream.
Peggy Miller, principal at Bergen Meadow Elementary, said she had fun teasing the kids by telling them they had to report to her office on Monday if they hit her photo with shaving cream.
Parent Tracy Murray had already doled out 20 shaving cream cans’ worth to kids less than halfway through the carnival. Parents also were recycling some of the shaving cream, walking up to the wall and scooping the cream back into pie tins.
The wall was hosed off with water regularly, and kids went back to throwing the fluffy white pies.
“It’s a sensory-rich activity,” Murray said. “Kids like the feeling of the shaving cream.”
Bergen teacher Jeannine Oakley was stationed at a booth where parents could buy Halloween costumes for their kids for $10, with the proceeds going to pay for Christmas baskets the schools put together for Bergens families in need. Everything from dinosaur to Michael Jackson costumes were available.
Lines were long for face painting and pony rides. Some participated in the cupcake walk, while others tried acrobatics offered by members of Evergreen’s Snowflake Circus troupe.
A more unusual sight were kids in helmets moving in large blown-up clear plastic balls. The kids looked like hamsters in toys that allow them to move around a room without escaping.
Margaret and Keith Principe attended the festival with their daughter, Ana, whose name was in a drawing for prizes. Ana won the opportunity to be a veterinarian for a day at Family Veterinary Hospital in Evergreen.
“This could inspire her to be a veterinarian,” Margaret said.
Of the festival, she said: “This is really fun because it feels small. It’s good to see everyone you know.”
She liked the carnival plan whereby parents paid the $15 admission fee, and the child received a wristband. After that, all the games and activities were free.
Miller said the festival’s success was a testament to the community spirit of Bergen parents.
“We had more than 150 people sign up to volunteer, and a dozen who showed up and asked to be put to work,” she said. “The festival is such a success because of the wonderful parents.”