Economy Driving Carnivals Out of Town

Fewer Fire Departments Hosting Events This Year

By Andrea Shiell, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (July 24, 2008)—Department President Bill Mattingly smiled proudly as he surveyed the rides on the grounds of the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department, as crews set up the last of the swirling, twirling, and twisting machines on Tuesday morning, all in preparation for this year’s carnival.

But Ferris wheels and cotton candy machines are scarcer this year than in previous years, mostly due to a slacking economy, and steel and fuel costs he says have been rising steadily each year. Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department will not be setting up a carnival this year, and has even lent some of their equipment to the Hollywood company for their event.

“Three of us have carnivals,” said Mattingly, noting that Mechanicsville and Ridge will both host carnivals this year, “but for whatever reason other companies have decided not to have them, but we’ll continue to have ours as long as the state allows us to.”

Though previous years have seen a rise in attendance at local events such as carnivals, volunteers at Hollywood VFD anticipate even larger crowds this year.

When asked about attendance at their events, 27-year department veteran Rick Greer said he has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people coming to the event, “especially after some of the other carnivals have shut down and quit operating,” he said, adding that Leonardtown closed its own carnival a year ago, and Hollywood and other companies have been seeing overflow from those areas in attendance.

“Some Friday and Saturday nights it’s just jam-packed,” said Greer, adding that on the carnivals busiest nights, it is difficult to walk from one ride to another.

Mattingly said that the company will provide $10 armbands for unlimited ride access on certain nights, which he admitted are the busiest nights for their event, “even if the price of fuel and materials goes up…we look at this as a community event, so as long as we’re making a profit, we’ll keep it at ten dollars,” he said.

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