The dark clouds and driving rain of a Northern Irish summer, saw our 'Plan A’ booted squarely into touch! We should have known that the sunshine of the previous week would desert us, just when we needed it most. After a mid-morning (panic) conference and a few emergency phone calls to Moneyreagh Community Centre, ‘Plan B’ emerged and was swiftly put into action. Our Carnival Fun Day would be celebrated come rain or shine.
Battling against the elements, the gazebos, BBQ, bouncy castles, climbing walls, goal posts and netball posts were put in place. By 2.00pm with inky black clouds glowering overhead and rain battering the tethered canvas, the hardy Moneyreagh folk started to arrive on cue! Someone had joked earlier in the morning, ‘If we build it they will come!’; and they did, and we were really glad they did!
The place was buzzing from 2.00pm to 5.00pm. Burgers and hotdogs were flying out faster than a McDonalds teatime rush-hour and the sweet aroma of candyfloss and popcorn filled the air, while the adults quaffed tea and coffee to warm their cockles! (Strange expression!)
Our activities included six inflatable stations; a Gladiator Duel, where assault and battery were the order of the day, a towering water slide (thanks to the weather), where getting wet was all part of the fun, a bungee run that stretched the stamina of the competitors and strained the vocal chords of their supporters along with more traditional bouncy castles. The climbing wall operated non-stop over the afternoon, providing an elevator to the sky and panoramic views over Strangford. For those who tired of bouncing and climbing there were the more sedate activities of nail painting, balloon modelling and face painting, with dinosaurs and puppies proving popular. For the sporty types we had penalty kicks, a netball shoot-out, 13-a-side football, and for the budding ‘Rorys’, mini-golf played over a six-hole course. For those who really didn’t mind getting wet, ‘Sponge the Principal’was an attractive prospect, although Mr Greer did manage to soak some of his would-be assailants!
We were also pleased to have the services of Thomas from ‘Releasing Rhythms’ and his African drums. Everyone seemed keen to have a go in the drum circle and the rhythmic beat of the Ghanaian drums certainly added to the Carnival flavour. Our other star attraction was a visit from ‘Party Animals NI’. Their hands-on session complete with Royal Python, African Snail, geckos, spiders, millipedes and giant rodents certainly captivated the children and adults alike.
All-in-all, the day exceeded expectations with an enthusiastic crowd throughout the afternoon. It was a great credit to the determination and organisation skills of our PTA team, ably led by Chairperson, Karen Hamilton. We are also grateful to Castlereagh Borough Council and the Moneyreagh Community Centre staff for their support in cutting the grass and the provision of emergency ‘wet-day’ facilities. Roll on next year – maybe we will have a Moneyrea Mardi Gras!