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The Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department’s 51st annual carnival kicks off Thursday night and runs through Sunday, then picks up all over again next week from June 21-24 with rides and games on the firehouse grounds off Hills Club Road.

“It’s an event for the entire family,” said the fire department’s president, Paul Colonna, who added that bicycles and giant stuffed animals will be given away each night to children younger than 10 starting around 8 p.m. “We’ll also have bingo, plenty of good food and big-money raffles as well,” he said, noting that two $500 cash prizes and one $1,000 prize will be given away on the last night of the carnival. The ladies auxiliary will raffle off a zero-turn John Deere lawn mower, also to be given away on June 24, the last night of the carnival.

All proceeds will benefit the Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department.

“With the economy as it is, local support is important to us,” said Carnival Chairman Jimmy Burroughs, who said the funds raised from the carnival allow the department to purchase equipment and other things without turning to taxpayer dollars.

“We also used to own our own rides, but due to the cost of insurance and trying to find a place to store them and all, we had to sell our rides and get someone else to come in and supply them for us,” Burroughs added, noting that M and M Amusements has stepped in to provide “about 60 percent adult rides and 40 percent kiddie rides.”

Burroughs said it takes about 50 to 75 department volunteers as well as volunteers from local organizations like the Optimists, Boy Scouts, Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, Moose Lodge and more about a month and a half to prep for the carnival and work the event each night.

But all in all, Burroughs said the time is worth it.

“I always love to see the smiles on kids’ faces when they have a cotton candy or candied apple or win a prize for the first time; that’s why I enjoy it,” he said.

“We just hope the community comes out to enjoy it as well, because that’s who we do it for — the community,” Colonna said. “There are a lot of kids in the area that maybe their parents can’t afford to take them to King’s Dominion or something like that, but here, for a small amount of money, they can come as a family and have just as good a time here as they might at a bigger place like that.”

If you goThe Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department’s 51st annual carnival runs June 14-17 and 21-24 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. (6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays) on the firehouse grounds off Hills Club Road in Mechanicsville. Entry is free, and ride tickets can be purchased for $1 per ticket or $15 for all-night arm bands (Sundays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. receive a $5 discount on arm bands). For more information, visit