We went to the community carnival last night.
I live in a large upscale area of South Florida -- 4 high schools of about 3-4,000 students each, nice developments, the standard shopping "must-have's" like Borders, Barnes & Noble, Old Navy, Build-A-Bear and Macy's. Chili's, TGI Friday's, Olive Garden. Of course a couple of Starbucks. The main roads are 6 lanes, and three highways connect me to the rest of South Florida.
Hardly small town.
And yet at the community's annual carnival, as we ate funnel cakes and watched the kids running from ride to ride, the feeling was almost the same as in my former small Pennsylvania town made famous by a romantic comedy slice of life movie set in a Kentucky town that shares the same name. (yes, you have to think on a Monday morning!!)
Kids still ran into friends and dared each other to ride the scariest rides with hands stretched up into the air. Parents carrying stuffed animal prizes still trailed behind, introducing themselves to one another by their children's names.
"Hi, I'm Catherine's mom." "Hi, I'm Ashley's mom. She talks a lot about Catherine." (Our own names almost always come at the end of the conversation -- but that's a subject for another blog post.)
Too much sugar. Music so loud you'd think it would drown out the squeals and screams of pleasure and mock terror from the rides, but it doesn't. The smell of fried foods that defy classification on any food pyramid. Fund raiser booths for the local Boy scouts, Girls Scouts, animal rescue and the new church down the street. Impossibly bright lights everywhere, and the giant ferris wheel overlooking the whole thing, carrying every couple in love to a breathtaking kiss at the top.
For years, the Elizabethtown Fair was the big event. (OK, so i took pity on sleepy Monday readers and gave away the name of the town!) Even though we lived 10 minutes from Hershey Park, and went almost daily in the summertime, going to a just-in-town-for-a-few-days fair was much more exciting. It was a place to run into the people you knew, and introduce yourself to the moms and dads of your kids' classmates. It was where kids dared one another to go on rides, and lovers kissed when their ferris wheel car stopped at the top. And being Pennsylvania, of course we ate funnel cake.
This weekend's fair lacked animal judging. No food and craft barns, either. But it was so nice to know that big city or small town, in today's online, high tech world, there's still a thrill in the air when the carnival's in town.