ROXBURY, NJ – The Rev. Mark Mancini was standing near the entrance to this year’s St. Therese Parish Carnival on Wednesday evening. It was the annual event’s opening night and something rare (for this spring) took place: A cloud moved out of the way and sunshine landed on Horseshoe Lake Park.
“Thanks for the good weather, father,” said a man as he passed.
Dressed casually, in jeans and sneakers, the friendly pastor of St. Therese Roman Catholic Church in Succasunna didn’t appear meteorologically powerful. But who’s to say?
What mattered to the dozens of little kids clamoring aboard rides at the carnival, and to their parents, was that the seats were dry and the onset of summer sure seemed imminent.
This year’s version of the carnival, the 23rd, won’t feel much different than last year’s acknowledged Mancini and Mike Calabrese, head of the church’s carnival committee. That includes the price of admission. “It’s always been a dollar,” said Calabrese.
He said the carnival committee does try to expand the musical entertainment. This year, Kevin McArdle and guests performed on opening night, DJ E-Go featuring AMMO will be working on June 8, Strange Eclipse and guests will perform on June 9. And on June 10 there will be performances by the DeNolga School of Irish Dance, C.R. & the Degenerates and RoseyBengal.
The biggest change in recent years was the addition of a new ride, the Seven Seas, by N.J. Valley Amusements, the Wayne based carnival company that’s been with the carnival since the beginning. “They’re very good to us,” Calabrese said.
The carnival opens each day at 6 p.m. Ride bracelets, available until 9 p.m., cost $25.
Mancini said Roxbury officials have also been solidly supportive of the carnival, a venture that began as a way to help the church pay off its mortgage. “It’s so wonderful to have this property to use,” Calabrese added. “It’s a great place for a carnival.”
The mortgage pay-off goal was reached four years ago, so proceeds now are used for St. Therese building maintenance and other capital expenses, Calabrese said.
Although Roxbury police stroll the grounds, there are rarely, if ever, any problems at the carnival, Mancini said. Playing a part in that, he figures, is the fact that no alcohol is served. “We keep this family oriented, noted the priest.
The carnival runs through June 10, when it finishes an hour later, at 11 p.m. Although thunderstorms are predicted for that night, forecasters are likely unaware of the clout seemingly wielded by Mancini, who pointed out that last year’s carnival was blessed with “four beautiful nights; beautiful, cloudless nights.”