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Guardian carnival is a family tradition

(7/20) People began lining East Main Street more than an hour before the annual parade started. By the time the roughly 200 vehicles and groups started down the street at 6:30 p.m. on July 13, spectators were two, three or more deep along the parade route.

It took about an hour and a half for all the vintage cars, fire and rescue equipment, political candidates, bands and baton twirlers to pass. Many of the parade participants threw candy to the crowd and children scrambled to fill bags faster than they can on Halloween night.

The parade is the highlight of the fireman's carnival. Donnie Stitely, carnival chairman for Guardian Hose Company, said as far as he can tell, it's been an annual event in Thurmont for at least 90 years.

Following the parade, most of the spectators crowded onto the carnival grounds for one of the busiest nights of the weeklong carnival. Visitors enjoyed the rides, food, music and games.

Chris Souris attended with his wife JoLane and daughter Leah. They live in town and regularly come to the carnival.

"I like to come for the food," Chris said.

JoLane said because the carnival is in the summer, Leah gets to see school friends she hasn't seen in weeks. They all also get to see neighbors and friends.

"It still has a very small-town feel and it's a family friendly affair," she added.

William and Leila Spahr came from Rocky Ridge to enjoy the games. William wanted to win a goldfish. "It only cost me 16 bucks when I did it at the Walkersville carnival," he joked.

He and his wife enjoy the carnival as a date. They can come play a few games, get a meal to eat and have a good time.

Audrey and Tim Demarais have volunteered to run games and booths at the carnival for six years. Tim is a social member of the Guardian Hose Company and his son is an active member.

Despite the heat, Audrey said, "I love it. I like seeing and talking to the people who come by."

Though the carnival is a fun community event, it also serves an important purpose for the Guardian Hose Company. It is their principal fundraiser to run the fire company.

"It's very important," Stitely said. "We depend a lot on it. We try to get $60,000."

Roughly a third of the company's annual budget comes from proceeds from the carnival.

"We do very well, better than a lot of carnivals," Stitely said. "We watch our expenses and we also get additional sponsors to help us."

Now that the 2006 carnival is finished, Stitely is already starting to plan for next year's event.

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