Published: Sep 19, 2012 11:06 AM
Modified: Sep 19, 2012 11:07 AM
CHAPEL HILL - Standing in the towering shadow of the Ring-the-Bell game, 3-year-old Buck Welch gripped the giant mallet with all the confidence of a man twice his age.
At stake, a lollipop – but if he was feeling the pressure, you’d never know it.
On Saturday, Welch and thousands of other visitors of all ages, participated in Chapel Hill High School’s first annual “Tiger Chill” – a carnival of fair food, music and games – put together by members of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association. The event raised approximately $18,000, said PTA co-chair Laura Malinchock.
Many of the school’s clubs and organizations sorely need more money, said Sondra Komada, vice president of the PTA. The idea behind the fundraising event was to get the most bang for their buck.
“We wanted to do something that would bring the school together,” Komada said.
“We’ve been very impressed with how the students and the teachers and the parents have all come together. It’s been amazing.”
According to Komada, 65 school organizations participated, along with 15 food booths and 15 local artisans. Most of the money raised will go to the PTA and clubs that participated, including sports teams, honor societies and the school’s student newspaper.
It appears their efforts were a success – shortly after the gates opened at 4 p.m., the place was teeming with guests. Less than an hour into the event, the school’s parking lots were completely filled, with overflow traffic having to be directed to nearby Smith Middle School.
“That’s a good problem to have,” Komada said. “We invited everyone from preschool to the senior center.”
With perfect weather, inflatable obstacle courses, mini-golf, cakewalks and even a fortune telling booth, the whole place looked like a genuine amusement park. Some kids had their faces painted, while others sat bravely unflinching for a henna tattoo session.
There was food for all tastes – assuming all tastes include an appreciation for cotton candy and junk food – and clubs like the high school marching band and chorus filled the air with music while prize goldfish were carried home proudly in plastic bags.
Welch’s mother, Rachel, a Carrboro resident and volunteer with the fair, said for her and her three sons, the event was a huge hit, mallet and all.
“It’s great. We’ve had a ton of fun,” she said. “It’s bigger than I expected.”
William Thomas of Chapel Hill brought his son and daughter – Paige and Shane, 4 and 6, respectively – after hearing about the fair from a neighbor. They even dressed up and dyed their hair green and pink for the occasion.
“We wanted to see what it was all about,” Thomas said. “It sounded fun.”
And though the siblings had difficulty agreeing on their favorite part – Shane liked the music, while Paige was partial to the Dunk-Tank – both seemed to agree that it was awesome.
“I love it!” they each said. For Thomas, that was enough to make the trip worth it.
William Biggers, a 10th grader at the school, amazed everyone nearby with his stunningly accurate ring-toss skills. Walking away victorious, he gave the event his stamp of approval.
“I think it’s doing pretty good,” he said. “If it’s like this next year, I’ll come back.”
It seems he’s in luck.
“We already have plans for next year, “ Komada said. “This is the first of many. It’s only going to get bigger and better.”
Ring-the-Bell operators take heed: that’s a lot of time for Buck to train.