MORRIS – Every June since 1970, Luehrs Ideal Rides has rolled into Morris and set up its rides for local residents to enjoy during the Firefighters Carnival.
It’s more than just a carnival, though. It’s a fundraising tradition.
“We’ve done one every year for as long as I can remember,” Morris Firefighters Association president Mark Doerfler said. “We’ve continued it over the years as a tradition.”
The tradition started when Morris had an all-volunteer fire department; since that time they’ve become the Morris Fire Protection & Ambulance District, a taxing body.
But the Morris Firefighters Association, which continues to host the annual carnival, is not a taxing body, and this is its only fundraiser each year.
“The money is used for the betterment of our firefighters,” Doerfler said. “It can be used on extra equipment or anything that makes our jobs easier for us.”
The firemen presell sheets of tickets before the carnival makes it to town, just as they have done since its inception. They then man the ticket booths at the carnival to make a percentage of the sales to help their cause.
Kristin Atkins, granddaughter of the original owners of Luehrs, Hub and Winnie, said a lot of the annual festivals they attend use the carnival as a fundraiser, and they have been going to some of these fundraising festivals for 57 years.
For some of Morris’ younger residents, it doesn’t matter where the money goes. They just want to ride the rides.
“My favorite is Pharaoh’s Fury. You feel like you are going to fall off,” 11-year-old Isabelle Horkey said.
But for 7-year-old Jase Jones and 11-year-old Frances Cummings, the Starship 2000 is the must-ride.
“I like the giant spaceship, because it spins around,” Jase said.
Seven-year-old Mackenzie Enger stood under her umbrella as her family went on the Starship 2000.
“I like the fun slide better because you go fast down it,” she said.
Despite the rain, which Doerfler said has also become a tradition for the Firefighters Carnival, kids and families trickled into the carnival after 6 p.m. Tuesday night for the opening night.
“When the carnival comes to town, you can expect rain,” Doerfler said.
With no lines for rides, games or confections, if you could stand the rain it was the perfect night to see the carnival.
The carnival opened Tuesday night and will continue through Saturday and is in the Morris Community High School parking lot at 1000 Union St. in Morris.
Times are 6 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 11 p.m. Saturday.