The summer Kiddie Carnival season is still more than five months away, but the Athens Lions Club recently announced some big changes.
Club President Keith Barksdale said the club recently decided to discontinue private party rentals. To offset the potential loss of revenue, the club decided to extend the carnival from six weeks to seven.
The carnival is set to kick off its summer season the weekend of June 18-20.
Barksdale said reservations for private party rentals would have started in February. He explained there are normally only 40 party slots available, and they fill up quickly.
“Last year, we got close to 400 requests in the first 15 minutes,” he said. “Within a minute and a half, we had 40 people asking for a party.”
For the Athens Lions Club, Barksdale said the financial return from the party rentals didn't offset the work involved. Each private party reservation came with the promise that four Lions Club members would operate the rides. If someone had a conflict or was sick, the crew was either a person short or there was a scramble to find a last-minute replacement.
“It's a ton of work, and (private parties) caused us to have to put the carnival together earlier than we normally would,” he said. “It cut into our maintenance time, and we couldn't do some of the things we needed to do because of the parties."
Barksdale said because the main goal of the carnival is to raise money for community needs, club members felt it would be better to add a seventh weekend.
“We won't lose anything, unless it rains all three nights the first weekend,” he said.
About the carnival
The Athens Lions Club uses funds from the Kiddie Carnival in a variety of ways, including scholarships to high school seniors. Money is raised from ticket sales to the rides.
The carnival, which has operated at the same site since 1957, has 10 rides for toddlers and young children. Each ride requires one 50-cent ticket.
The focus of Lions International is sight. The Athens Lions Club supports this cause by helping qualified Athens residents with vision exams or glasses, as well as by collecting used eyeglasses to be recycled.
The club has supported Alabama Lions Sight Conservation Association and Camp ASCCA/Camp Seale Harris, a camp for youth with diabetes. The local club also supports other causes and organizations with workers or funding.