21 April 2013

The Carnival Party to End all Parties

Roll up, Roll up! Come and see the crazy lady who planned a Carnival Party on the day the Drought Broke!
Yes folks, it's the one you've all been waiting for. The Carnival Party I'd been planning since January. 
The one that nearly did me in. 
Or it would have... if I hadn't had an inspiration on Wednesday about an alternative venue, just in case the Weatherman was right about the rain for once (which he was).

This was not a party that could have taken place indoors at my house in the case of foul weather. If I hadn't been standing in the covered porch at kindy wishing we had an area like that at home; if I hadn't gotten goosebumps when I suddenly thought, KINDY! We could hire our kindy... this party would have been a washout, literally.

But thank God (literally) for those goosebumps. And the kindness of our Head Teacher. The little fund I had built up on PayPal from selling my party invitations and an all-weather bouncy castle.

In the end our Carnival Party was a huge success. In spite of the (torrential) (flood-making) rain.

 (A sudden gust of wind blows over a sign, giving our little helpers a fright)

Inside undercover it was bright and festive... and dry (Once we wound the side door down).

With a mere two hours to set up and acres of borrowed bunting, I didn't think we'd do it. Our stall helpers arrived in time to be given their instructions... and had to finish help setting up instead. Bless them, they had to be onto it. No time to run through how the games should work. Barely enough time to finish setting out the cupcakes. 

Thankfully our helpers were bright and clever. They figured it out on the hop and earned more than their fair share of candy-floss...

(My mum was on candy floss)

There were all kinds of Yummy Treats to "buy" with your tickets.

On offer was Traditional Carnival Fare - candy floss, popcorn, hot dogs, toffee apples, lemonade, as well as  lucky dip bags, sweets and toys (the ones we would have donated to the gala if this party hadn't been coming up)...

How to get tickets? Each family were given a strip of tickets when they arrived to get them started. Then the idea was to play games to win some more.... and buy treats and prizes...

Games like hook-a-duck...

Balloon Darts...

My dad was awesome on this game, dressed as some kind of "ringmaster" (he's great with kids and has just the right amount of "crazy"); Balloon darts was super-popular...

Hoopla was also popular. Throw the rings to hook a drink. This gorgeous clown was the faithful stall operator who stayed on until every last drink was won.

Coconut Shy and Mini golf...


(our amateur face painters were awesome; this clever young makeup artist aged just eight....)

And of course a Photo Booth, complete with silly dress-up props...

(photos from the photo booth are yet to be uploaded, but our young photographer - aged 11 - did a fantastic job)

We all had fun at the carnival, even me. It was awesome to see all those months of planning come together. (And such a relief to be out of the rain!)

For once, I had neither camera nor handy-cam in my hand.
My lovely friend Meg took these stunning photos for me. What a gem. What a gift.
And Gail's kind hubby took video footage, even taping Happy Birthday messages to Scrag from his little pals.

I did a whole bunch of prep-work spanning months, but this fabulous afternoon could not have worked if we didn't have an amazing bunch of helpers, both big and little.

 (Me and my brother John, who travelled all the way from Wellington with his family to be at our party)

Here's my precious three. The soccer goal guy (who ran his game between rainstorms); the effervescent carnival fairy (who rocked that blue wig) and the birthday boy... before he got his face painted like a robot and then smeared it off so that he ended up resembling a zombie... (It actually looked pretty cool before he smudged it, honest)

After an hour and a bit the stalls were starting to run out of stuff.
The Balloon Darts ran out of balloons... (never mind, my dad just pinned up some targets and kept those darts a-comin)

The candyfloss maker ran out of sticks...

 The kids were soaked through from playing "Titanic" on the bouncy castle...

It was time for our special international juggling act...

My brother John's Irish friend had just flown into the country. John (who had been driving since 3am from Wellington) picked him up from the airport and introduced him to New Zealand with a mad carnival party and a command juggling performance. Years ago my brother actually used to travel through Sardinia (Italy) with a circus every summer. Pretty awesome huh? A real circus-guy for an uncle. My kids are so blessed.

Time for cake

Yes I attempted a rainbow. Pretty pleased with myself, I must say
(except that last layer which should have been violet and turned out khaki. Blegh).

The Carnival is over. Scrag's 5th birthday has been celebrated in style x1000.
An amazing afternoon - exhausting, but rewarding.
Rewarding to hear the laughter, see the fun and smiles, watch everyone enjoying themselves as if they were really at a real live carnival.

Phew I did it. WE did it. I couldn't have pulled it off without the help of some amazing friends and their kids.
Hugest party EVER.

So now my last baby is five I can go back to small parties with a just a few guests and a token bit of theming...??? (Are you thinking, Yeah right?! Whaddya reckon? Can I really stick to it?)
We shall see, aye? We shall see.

HUGE thanks to the following:

THE BIG PEOPLE: Mum and dad (intrepid stall holders and those amazing toffee apples), John & Judith (for coming all that way), Meg (the photos - amazing - and for having the two cutest clowns ever) & Brenton (for being the hook-a-duck guy); Gail & Mark (popcorn and video), Linda & Misty, Nic, Carla and Bonar (Stall holders extraordinaire), Justine (the acres of that festive bunting which set the scene so well and made a dull day bright), Virginia (a gazillion rainbow cupcakes), Ella P. (for jumping in and helping out on the face painting - so lovely to have you as a surprise guest!), John the Irish Juggler (for getting off a plane after a killer flight and just joining right in), Lupe and Sam (for doing whatever needed doing), Granny Winnie (for helping wherever she was needed, all day) and Mr G for being the guy who loaded everything up and dragged it to our venue, then packed it all back down in the rain and who still walked around smiling in a pink afro handing out tickets). YOU GUYS ROCK.

THE LITTLE PEOPLE: Abby/Miss Fab (for always being willing to help, and for rocking that blue wig and that prize stall); Olivia, Asha, Reuben, Aysha, Sienna and Max C., for being amazing stall holders, for sticking to your posts right to the end); Yaz (for her amazing face painting), Osc (for his fabulous photos and sticking at the photo booth and drumming up business when things were quiet), Dash/Josh for doing the soccer game even in the mud and wet... YOU ARE AMAZING.

AND everybody else who volunteered but got to the party and found that things had changed because of the weather and they didn't have a job anymore. I think you guys enjoyed yourselves anyway tho, aye? If I've forgotten thanking anyone by name or missed seeing you helping... THANKYOU!)

SPECIAL THANKS to Mt Albert Kindergarten for being so accommodating, saving my nerves, saving our party and letting us farewell our wonderful kindy in style. We have loved being part of this wonderful place for the past seven-and-a-half years and will always be thankful for the memories, but mostly for the wonderful community we have found here in Mt Albert. Mt Albert rocks.

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