Weeks of planning, days of set up and hours upon hours of volunteering bring together many of the summer festivals and carnivals across the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. At the beginning of the season, more than 30 listings filled the festival page on the diocesan website.
From single-day affairs to multi-evening events, parish festivals run the gamut of size and scope. However, one common feature of many is the dedication of parish volunteers to support the undertaking.
One of the larger festivals in the diocese is the mid-summer homecoming carnival at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Parma. The five-day event brings together more than 800 volunteers performing a variety of tasks from youth group members scooping ice cream to members of the Knights of Columbus spinning a game wheel. Carnival patrons can spend as little as 25 cents and go home with a deli-quality salami or ham.
One family, the Nowaks, have been helping at the St. Charles carnival for close to 30 years. “We do it to help support the parish,” said Cindy Nowak. Her husband, Michael, is the carnival’s chairman who spends most of his night keeping the grounds running with his trusty walkie-talkie.
Not only do parish festivals and carnivals provide financial support for capital improvement projects and other needed upgrades, they help build community. “Every year our parishioners show up joyfully. It’s a great community builder,” said Father Jack Carlin, St. Charles pastor.
While last week's recent MLB All-Star Game means that there are fewer summer nights ahead, the diocesan festival listing still has many dates offering an opportunity to enjoy a carnival.
In a recent parish bulletin, Father Carlin quoted the 1959 carnival club newsletter that serves as a great reminder for all the faithful in supporting parish festivals. “As they put it in 1959…so do we now in 2019: ‘It’s one for all and all for one good cause -- your parish.’”