Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Johanna's Backyard Carnival

Let's just get this out here right now: My parents, while perfectly reasonable while guiding me through my formative years, are completely insane when it comes to my children. My only explanation for this is that being a grandparent does something to a person's brain. Or maybe heart.

Anyway, my parents watch my girls A LOT (especially our Johanna. We owe them so much it's not even funny). A couple of years ago, my mother told Johanna a story about how, when she was but a wee lass, she would put on backyard carnivals for the neighbors. She only had a couple of booths because she was like ten or something, but Johanna hears this, and she's all, let's do that! and my mother is like, great idea!

And that's how Johanna's Backyard Carnival was born. The first one was in 2011. It was a smashing success. They meant to do it again last year, but sometimes life gets in the way of fun stuff. It happens. This year is a much better year all around, so the carnival was back on. Mom, Dad and Johanna had planned it for months, adding new booths to the list, finding prizes and necessary items, making signs et al. There's a lot of "et al" here because my parents' put on a pretty legit backyard carnival, just FYI. Let's just say that while planning does happen during the winter months, pretty much their entire July and August were devoted to this thing.

Thanks to my Aunt Joan, who's downsizing her possessions, the main prizes were Beanie Babies purchased in the '90s, which WERE going to be worth thousands but are now worth like a nickel apiece. She had so many other things she wanted to get rid of too, actually, that my parents set up a Bonus Prize table.

Everything about this year's carnival was bigger. There were more booths and more prizes, they set it up so more of the yard was utilized, and there were even more kids. There was a bubble machine and lots of balloons. There were snow cones and bags of popcorn and cupcakes. And there was even a picnic lunch.

My favorite part was just standing by the gate as the kids came in. There was always a collective intake of breath (by the kids and their parents) when they first spied the backyard. Mom had pretty bags for their goodies and even a bracelet of carnival tickets. There was so much to look at that every single one of them took a tour around the yard first before getting down to business. One kid even asked if it was someone's birthday, and Abby, who was working the face painting booth, was like, no, it's just something we do for Johanna.

For Johanna's part, she absolutely loved showing kids the booths, being with her friends (some she hasn't seen all summer), and giving away the prizes she had earned (that's my girl!). She felt so, so special, and honestly, I can't thank my parents enough for going through all this hassle just for a couple of hours of fun for the kid.

P.S. My favorite mother-in-law came to help, as did my Aunt Carol and Aunt Jan, who brought my cousin Clara and baby Maggie (who wasn't quite sure what to think of all this). We love help!

I think the rest of this post will just be pictures so you can get an idea of how insane and dedicated my parents are. I didn't include pics of all the booths because there were 11 of them and... well, it was getting long. Also, I didn't include photos with kids in them (aside from Jo) because not everyone wants their kid's pic online. But this should, at least, give you an idea.

P.P.S. If you're someone I know in real life, I did make a scrapbook on Snapfish. Email me and I'll send you the link.
First sight from the gate
Balloon Darts safely tucked away so no one would lose an eye
Beanie Baby Toss 
Bonus Prize table bench 
Cupcake Walk through my parents' flowers.
Fishing was a BIG HIT.
Ring Toss, with the popcorn and snow cone table behind.
Yet another prize table.
This one is a hit with the younger kids. Well, water, you know.
Johanna had to try out the bubble machine beforehand to make sure it worked properly.
Main prize table
Cupcakes came out at the last minute because it was hot and Mom was afraid the frosting would melt.
P.S. Decorated by my darling children.

I love the signs the girls made... they make me laugh.

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