San Jon carnival’s on

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Perhaps it’s hard to forget dressing up as a giant Hershey’s Kiss. But San Jon’s Julie Heddlesten said she recalls it especially well, even though she was only in fourth grade at the time, because it was part of the annual San Jon Carnival Parade and Carnival.

This year’s parade will be marching down Route 66 at noon on Thursday with the jam-packed carnival scheduled for Friday starting at 6 p.m. and lasting well into the night. Heddlesten said this two-day affair is the school’s biggest fund-raiser, often raking in close to $10,000. Carnival tickets are three for $1.

Although one may not see gigantic chunks of chocolate sashaying down the highway in this year’s parade, student aide JaTawn Slutz said this year’s theme of Fairy-Toons is sure to ensure some memorable floats and costumes.

“This theme combines fairy tales and cartoons,” Slutz said. “We’ll have a lot of different floats from the Dukes of Hazard cartoon to Finding Nemo to the Disney reunion.”

Slutz, a San Jon senior who will be graduating in the spring, said she will surely miss the yearly gala affair. “This is my favorite community activity,” she said.

Heddlesten concurred that, in addition to her Hershey Kiss recollections, she is constantly left with fond thoughts of the affair.

“I always thought it was neat to do the parade,” Heddlesten said. “In those days (when she was a student) we could ride a bicycle or go cart and they had horses.”

A receptionist at the schools for the past four years, Heddlesten said she no longer marches in the parade but still reaps its benefits. “I stand out there to catch the candy they throw,” she said.

Although the marchers in the parade are exclusively San Jon students, the following day’s carnival is open to all communities and all ages. The festivities will even feature a king and queen of each class, preschool through high school senior, at the coronation scheduled for 8:45 p.m.

“It is really cute,” Slutz said. “The really young ones are the bearers who carry in the crowns.”

While one is waiting to glimpse the royalty, fair-goers have plenty to keep them busy, Slutz said. Some of the activities include a football throw and basketball toss, skeeball, Wheel of Fortune, a fish pond, a sweet shop and numerous other booths. Slutz said one of the all-time favorites has always been the bingo game.

“We have extremely good prizes for a bingo game,” said Slutz, adding they are collected as donations from stores in surrounding towns. She said prizes could include vases, lamps or anything else a store may be willing to give away to help raise money for education.

Heddlesten said the cake walk is another popular attraction in which she herself participates each year. “When I get lucky and win,” she said, “I pick a lemon cake.”

What: San Jon Carnival Parade
Parade starts at noon on Thursday down Route 66/Highway 469
Carnival starts at 6 p.m. on Friday at the San Jon school gymnasium
Coronation of the kings and queens is 8:45 p.m.
Information: Call 576-2466