Easton’s 75th annual carnival brings old-fashioned fun

The Easton Volunteer Fire Co. #1 will hold its 75th annual Fireman’s Carnival from Tuesday, Aug. 2, to Saturday, Aug. 6.

One of the community’s best-loved summer events, the carnival takes place on the green in front of the Easton Fire House on Center Road in Easton, Conn. It is the primary fund-raiser for the town’s volunteer fire company.

Home to nearly 7,500 residents, Easton is served by the mainly volunteer fire brigade. The fire company is comprised of 18 certified volunteer firefighters and eight career firefighters, led by Chief Steve Waugh.

Volunteers must complete rigorous training in order to serve the community as firefighters. They are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

In 2015, the Volunteer Fire Company responded to more than 550 incidents in Easton.

“Easton’s Volunteer Fire Company is a major asset to this community,” said Waugh, carnival committee member and chief.  “The volunteers are Easton residents who make a significant commitment to their neighbors. The annual carnival is an excellent way for citizens of Easton and surrounding towns to have a lot of family fun while supporting the fire company.”

Firefighters Lt. David Wheatley, Lt. Gregory Fracassini and James McCarthy are carnival committee trichairs. Captain Carl Ceva, who has been a volunteer firefighter since 2007, is handling publicity.

His three daughters, Megan, 21, Dana, 19, and Hannah, 15, will be helping Carol Mulligan in the dessert tent as in years past. His wife, Kirsten, will be making two carrot cakes, her specialty, for the carnival on Tuesday and Thursday night. It always sells out, he said.

The carnival is known for its homemade desserts, including peach shortcake and many kinds of pies. Megan said that in addition to donated desserts, she and her sisters and the other volunteers make some of the desserts, including sundaes, peach smoothies and brownie floats.

Megan said there are work parties all weekend, and she will be helping out with set up on Sunday and Monday. A recent University of Connecticut graduate, she is working with a consulting firm to help people set up small businesses.

“I love volunteering and seeing friends from high school and campers from Aspetuck Park,” she said. She was a camp counselor for a number of years.

Getting involved

Ceva told the story of how he got involved a number of years after moving to Easton in 1992.

“My oldest daughter was about a year old, and I went to the Fire Department to get a burn permit,” he said. “Jim Wright, who was a paid firefighter then and now, asked if I wanted to join. I declined and said I was too busy and had too much going on with a new daughter. I went about my business.”

Ceva works as director of regulatory affairs at OrthoNet in White Plans and also has a long commute to work.

Then something happened that changed his outlook.

“When my daugher was 12, she was coming home with a neighbor, and they were in a car accident,” he said. “Megan called and said ‘Daddy, we were involved in an accident.’”

It was no fender bender, he said. It turned out that they were broad-sided into utility pole. The driver and her dauther were taken to the hospital by ambulance.

“Some of my friends were at the scene, taking care of my daugher, and I wasn’t there,” Ceva said. “I realized these guys were out taking care of my kid and wished I had joined earlier. It was an eye opener. I ralized they were taking care of everyone’s kids when I couldn’t.”

He said he really enjoys being part of the Fire Department and said it’s like having a group of brothers. He said going to the Fire Department is like coming home and being greeted by his dog.

“No matter how bad a day you have, they are always glad to see you,” he said.

Since he is out of the time during the day, he volunteers in the evenings and on weekends.

He said the carnival is the one event every year that all residents look forward to.

“They can come and see friends and neightors and acquintances you don’t always have time to talk to at this wonderful family event,” he said. “It’s a great family atmosphere where you see your neighbors serving food and running the booths. It’s a great opportunity to get togeher.”

“We’re always looking for additional volunteers,” he said.

Preparation work is intensive the weekend preceding the carnival, and busy again when it’s over and the volunteers tear things down and get things back to normal.

Carnival week is a busy time, and he has to leave work early to get there in time.

“That’s fine. It’s worth it,” he said.

Old-fashioned fun for all ages

The carnival was started in 1925. Attractions include rides by Stewart Amusements of Trumbull, games, bingo with cash prizes, raffle for the winners choice of a 2016 Ford Mustang or a Ford F-150 pickup truck, food and a dessert tent featuring famous peach shortcake as handcrafted by Siren Aide, the women who support the Easton Volunteer Fire Co.

Carnival hours are Tuesday, Aug. 2, to Saturday, Aug. 6, from  6 to 11 p.m. Admission and parking are free. Pay-one-price ride bracelets are available every night.

The sights and sounds of the Easton Fireman's Carnival will light up Easton from Tuesday, Aug. 2, through Saturday, Aug. 6. — Shannon Calvert file photo

The sights and sounds of the Easton Fireman’s Carnival will light up Easton from Tuesday, Aug. 2, through Saturday, Aug. 6. — Shannon Calvert file photo

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