Fifth annual Spartan Spring Carnival underway

Photo by AMY DEMIEN Kids soar through the air on the Cliff Hanger at the fifth annual Spartan Spring Carnival on Tuesday evening.

NASHUA – School bells have sounded, releasing the young classroom-bound masses for a week-long spring vacation, but the fifth annual Spartan Spring Carnival brought many of them back to Nashua High School South for carnival games, rides, and warm fried pillows of sugar-dusted dough.

Arrive during the operating hours of 2-10 p.m. on weekdays and starting at noon Saturday and Sunday, and one will find the typical high school parking lot transformed into an elaborate fairground, complete with a fully refurbished merry-go-round from 1935 and a Ferris wheel that towers high above the school. The carnival has something to offer to visitors of all ages whether one is a young child hoping to spin the wheels on a rotating pumpkin patch, a teenager seeking to soar on the Cliff Hanger, or an entire family wanting to race down the 90-foot Fiberglas Super Slide.

“We wanted to create a fun event for the community,” said Paul LaFlamme, who serves as event organizer and president of the Spartan Bugle and Drum Corps. “We are proud that this event has become an annual tradition that also financially supports our organization. Nashua once had an annual carnival on Main Street – and our carnival has allowed that tradition to come back to life.”

Keeping the carnival tradition alive included having Fanelli Amusements once again serve as operator, a family business that has grown tremendously since it first started back in 1956. Fanelli Amusements began with John Fanelli selling popcorn from wagon cart and a single kiddie ride bought shortly after that. From there, it has grown into a large traveling carnival with plenty of rides, games and quality equipment to cater regularly to fairs, festivals, and fundraisers for organizations such as the Spartan Drum and Bugle Corps.

I’ve been doing this my whole life and working as manager for the past three years,” said Joey Fanelli, the third-generation manager of Fanelli Amusements. “Anyone who comes here can expect to have a day filled with happiness, laughs and plenty of thrills.”

In addition to the more traditional fairground attractions, those seeking thrills might be drawn to the more daring rides, such as the Pharrow, the Scrambler, the Cliff Hanger, and the Yo-Yo. Most formidable is the Zipper, a 50-foot-tall ride flashing multi-colored lights and flipping riders in multiple directions as each of the free spinning cages rounds both ends of the boom.

Aiyana Subhuza who was catching her breath after stepping off the Zipper said, “It was fun ,but super scary. Eight flips in a row and the most amazing ride of my life.”

Those wanting a calmer experience at the carnival can delight in competitive water shooting, star darts, or basketball games while enjoying the traditional carnival fare of fried dough, candy apples, popcorn, and cotton candy.

“We came last year and know the carnival is a nice, safe and really fun part of this town,” said Kate Marien, mother of 8-year-old Sara who scored a toy from the water shooter game.

All proceeds from the carnival will go to support the Spartan Drum and Bugle Corps mission of being the premier performing arts organization for young people, through education and opportunities to excel, while developing the values of respect, responsibility, and commitment.

Since 1955, the nonprofit has provided an opportunity for youth to be involved in a musical marching ensemble consisting of brass and percussion instruments as well as perform regularly in competitions.

“The carnival is an important part of our annual budget,” LaFlamme said. “The really exciting part is that, now with it being our fifth year, the community really looks forward to it. It has become a community event and a place where families can come during school vacation to build memories and have a good time on a reasonable budget.”

The carnival will be open until through Sunday.