Orange Lions Carnival opens November 7th

Published 12:01 pm Sunday, November 4, 2018

Volunteers make the event a success

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Orange has been waiting and waiting for the opening of the Orange Lions Club Carnival, a tradition in the area.

Mother Nature was less than cooperative knowing citizens were anticipating opening day after the event was canceled last year thanks to our unexpected, unwelcomed guest – Hurricane Harvey.

From Bingo, Dime Toss, the Goldfish booth, rides, and food vendors, the carnival is sure to have something for everyone to enjoy, even catching up with old friends.

Behind the scenes are hundreds of volunteers, giving up time with family; to help make sure the gates open and the event goes off without a glitch.

John Martin can be found by the Ferris Wheel, a position he has held since the 1970s.

Martin, with his young family, moved to Orange in 1961.

“One of the attractions, as a young family in 1961, was the carnival,” Martin said. “I joined the Lions Club five years later.”

Martin has been a Lions Club member since 1966 and served as President during the 1976-1977 fiscal year.

His first year volunteering at the carnival had him stationed in the infamous hamburger booth. The second year the club purchased a ride called The Comet.

“Our name for it was the Vomit Comet,” Martin said. “So many kids were throwing up on the ride.”

Martin manned the ride for several years until serving as president.

It was then he moved onto the Ferris Wheel.

“Lee Roy had some problem with finding help,” Martin said. “I started working with him and been there ever since.”

One of Martin’s favorite parts of the carnival is the first Thursday the carnival is open.

“We started it about four to five years ago,” Martin said. “The carnival is open at 10 a.m. for the children with special needs. They get to ride the rides without the crowds. I really enjoy seeing them have a great time.”

Orange County Sheriff’s Office, according to Martin, helps with parking, loading and unloading the school buses and with getting into the park during the special time.

While the weather has been less than cooperative, Martin said this is the latest he has seen the carnival open during his 52 years of volunteering.

“We never ran into this situation before,” Martin said. “We stayed at the park 40 days one time. We have had some unusual days as far as weather is concerned.”

Dan Mohon has volunteered at the carnival 44 years.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering with the Lions,” Mohon said. “The carnival funds the help we are able to do within the community such as eyeglasses and Christmas Baskets of food.”

The Orange Lions Club also awards four – five scholarships each year.

“I have enjoyed the fellowship,” Mohon said. “The community supports it [carnival] and it is something inexpensive for the family to enjoy.”

Lions are not the only volunteers one will see at the festival.

“There are lots of volunteers in the community,” Mohon said. “We could not run it without volunteers. On just the weekends, there are 125-150 volunteers.”

Mohon also said he enjoys the day the special needs children enjoy their day at the carnival.

“It started with 35-40 children and now there are 160,” Mohon said. “Kelly Meadows has taken it over. It is the first Thursday of the carnival. Brent Godwin comes out and sings for them.”

Meadows is the school nurse at Little Cypress Intermediate School and instrumental in making the dream of the LCI Stay and Play Recreational Area, a reality.

Orange Lions Club Carnival is opening at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7-10 and Nov. 14-17.

The carnival will be held at the Lion’s Den located at 1802 Main Street in Orange.