As Urbana Volunteer Fire Department prepares to host its annual carnival, from July 15 to 20, volunteers are coming from around Urbana to make it happen. Susie O’Brien, president of the department, estimates that 75 to 100 volunteers, which include members of the fire department and non-member volunteers, will execute the event. “With the dedication of our volunteers and the support of our community,” said O’Brien, “we are able to celebrate our 45th Annual Community Carnival this year.”
Volunteers from the fire department itself run several games throughout the midway. They also have support from members of Home Church, which will be running the duck pond.
Urbana High School’s Mini-THON committee will be running a coke bottle pitch; the profits are split between the fire department and Four Diamonds, a foundation that supports pediatric cancer research and families undergoing treatment.
Troop 1775 will be cooking up the funnel cakes this year in appreciation for the department letting them use the hall for Scout meetings. Troop 1775 also helps pick up the trash every morning.
The fire department will be offering plenty of food, said O’Brien. “We have the inside dining hall, which offers buffet dinners from 5 to 8 nightly. We also have two buildings on the grounds that sell additional food. The Carnival Kitchen has fried chicken, seafood, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, ham sandwiches and Urbana Fries,” which O’Brien says are cut fresh each night and served up to carnival-goers. “The Coke Building,” she continued, “sells pit beef and pork sandwiches, steak and cheese subs, sausage sandwiches with the fixin’s, hot dogs, French fries and country ham sandwiches.” There will be pizza on the grounds, as well.
The Ladies’ Auxiliary will be offering sno-cones and soft ice cream. The Ladies’ Auxiliary is also raffling off a pair of Cracker Barrel rocking chairs this year.
While the Scouts might be some of the carnival’s youngest volunteers, there is certainly no upper age limit for volunteers. The oldest member, Glenn Brubaker, is 102 years old, and he can be found in the dining hall, wiping down trays alongside auxiliary member Mary Smith, who is in her early nineties. “We have a strong corps of volunteers,” said O’Brien.
The department recently lost a life member, Jake Lenhart, whose contributions to the department were immeasurable. “We will feel that loss the week of the carnival,” said O’Brien. “He would be there at 6 in the morning,” she recalled, “then work until about 2 in the afternoon, go home and shower, and be back working until 10 or so.” She noted that Lenhart’s relatives are still coming to help, and added that extended family of many members of the fire department volunteer each year.
Students from Urbana High School also volunteer throughout the carnival grounds, earning SSL (student service learning) hours.
Profits from the carnival go into the general fund account for the fire department. O’Brien said the funds pay for the mortgage on the building, apparatus, equipment and building upkeep; and funds are often used to supplement the money that the department receives from the county budget. “We just purchased a new ambulance and will be receiving a new tanker in November of this year,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien was excited to talk about all that the carnival has to offer. “Don’t forget to tell them about the entertainment,” she said of the lineup of a variety of genres of bands, “and it’s free!” There is no cost for parking or admission to the carnival.
There is still time for community members to volunteer. “It takes an army,” O’Brien said. Anyone interested in volunteering for the carnival can call 301.606.3008. More information about the carnival can be found at www.urbanavfd.org.