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Along for the rides


Staff writer

It’s summer, which means the return of one of St. Mary’s County’s institutions: the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department’s annual carnival.

The carnival, which was held last weekend, will take place again July 25 to 29 at the firehouse at 24801 Three Notch Road.

St. Mary’s County-based carnivals have taken somewhat of a nosedive in recent years, as the Leonardtown and Mechanicsville VFDs no longer hold them, but the Hollywood carnival continues to be a top draw in the area.

The Ridge Volunteer Fire Department holds a carnival of its own later in the summer.

“As far as we’re concerned in Hollywood, it’s still going strong,” Hollywood VFD Chief Bill Mattingly said of the local carnival scene.

And much of the reason for that longevity — the carnival was first staged in the early 1960s — is the fact that the Hollywood VFD owns its own rides and uses its staff and volunteers to run them. As a result, it eliminates plenty of overhead from renting the rides and hiring operators. Mattingly said that people should stop by “if they want a good time, if they want an inexpensive time, and if they want to have some fun and see a lot of people in the community.”

Volunteers and staff start setting up the carnival in May after receiving the go-ahead from state inspectors.

The HVFD carnival not only waxes nostalgic but includes plenty of fun for all ages. The carnival will feature 10 rides — which include a Ferris wheel, Tilt-A-Whirl and Scrambler — and kids can ride free all night with a $10 wristband. Individual tickets cost 25 cents, and rides require three or four tickets. There will be plenty of food, such as funnel cakes, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, ice cream and sno-cones, all of which will be prepared by the ladies auxiliary.

There also will be nightly bingo games that will pay out a 50-50 cash prize, giveaways and raffles. Three boys and three girls bicycles will be awarded each night to children 12 and younger. The final night of the carnival will feature a raffle for a treasure chest cash prize.

“Besides being a major fundraiser for us, it’s also a community event,” Mattingly said. “A place for people and families to come out at a pretty inexpensive cost.”

Call 301-373-2900 or go to

If you go

The Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department’s annual carnival will be held at the firehouse, 24801 Three Notch Road.

July 18-21

7-11 p.m. — Carnival rides, food, bingo, giveaways, raffles.

July 25-29

7-11 p.m. — Carnival rides, food, bingo, giveaways, raffles.

Tickets cost 25 cents; rides cost 3-4 tickets.

For $10 a night, kids have unlimited access to all rides.

Treasure chest cash giveaway on last night.

For more information, call 301-373-2111 or go to