Casey Croucher/Recorder staff Kaydence Price goes for a train ride.
Casey Croucher/Recorder staff Clowns Willie, left, and Bibbles, right, of Happi Clowns Entertainment.
Casey Croucher/Recorder staff Kaden Sweeney, left, and his grandmother Geraldine Kadle, right.
Casey Croucher/Recorder staff Ian Yucha makes sand art.
By CASEY CROUCHER
Generations of families crowded under a tent on a warm summer day Wednesday to share watermelon, ice cream and laughs during River Ridge Living Center's eighth annual carnival.
River Ridge employee Donna Peterson said the event is important to the facility every year because it "brings the community in and gives the residents something to do."
One resident in particular, Tom Parker, was especially excited for this year's carnival because it was the first time he was able to be there.
"The facility changed the date of the carnival so that I could make it this year," Parker said. "I have dialysis every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and the carnival always fell on one of those days, but this year they changed the date for me."
Parker said he loved being outside, seeing all of the children, and eating all of the great food.
"All these kids that come to this carnival get to see us for who we are," he said. "They get to see that we're not scary and that makes us feel better, too. Today's just been all-around great -- we even got to go off our diets and have a delicious meal."
Wednesday's carnival featured homemade barbecue, clam chowder, cotton candy, snow cones, watermelon and ice cream. There was music from the Wash Tub Band directed by Gary Van Slyke, tunes from D.J. Ody B. Goldy, a bounce house, a photo booth, face painting, carnival games, and clowns specializing in balloon animals.
Kaden Sweeney, whose grandfather is a resident at River Ridge, went to the event with his grandmother, Geraldine Kadle.
Sweeney gave his grandmother a red balloon heart he received from Willie the Clown.
Kadle said she's been going to the carnival with her grandson for three years now and she loves it.
"This is a great event for the residents, for relatives and for the community," she said. "My husband has Alzheimer's disease and he doesn't get out much, but today he was out for two hours and he was happy. This is good therapy for him."
Catharine Rivera, a River Ridge nurse, wishes there were more events like the carnival.
"I just wish they did something like this more often because it brings families out, it gets the residents out and gets the residents interacting with their families and children," Rivera said. "The residents love seeing kids; it always makes them happy."
Resident Jean Sheehan was especially excited to see her great-granddaughter, Mia Sophia Menendez.
Wednesday's carnival was the first time Sheehan really got to hold her baby great-granddaughter for a longer period of time and she loved it.
"Today is magical for me," she said.
Michael Braunstein, one of the center's owners, said he was proud to be a part of the carnival.
"It just makes me feel wonderful bringing the community together and helping create special moments for our residents," he said.