HOLLYWOOD, Md. — Many came last weekend for the food, or perhaps the rides, or maybe to see friends that they have been apart from due to COVID-19. But the bottom line is clear — tons of people showed up to the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department’s annual carnival and fundraiser.

According to Bill Mattingly, president of the Hollywood VFD and the carnival’s chairman, after COVID-19 upended the fundraiser last year for the first time in over 60 years, the community came out in numbers this year.

Cars backed up traffic along Route 235 and parking overflowed to the shoulder of the roads. So many people came to support the fire department that at one point, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office put out an alert for significant traffic causing delays in the area.

“I will tell you, it was a record-breaking weekend,” Mattingly said. “We had never missed a year until last year due to COVID. Luckily, and happily, we were able to pick back up this year. And the first weekend… was a very, very successful weekend.”

Earlier this year, Governor Larry Hogan[R] visited the Hollywood VFD’S previously assembled vaccine clinic and offered Mattingly and other department members some confidence about having the fundraiser this summer.

“It was very reassuring,” Mattingly explained. “We were sitting there at the end of April, and typically our carnival is two weekends in July. While we were still at an uncertain point towards when he opened the state back up, we didn’t have time to put the carnival together. And we [decided] to move it to the last two weekends in August, and actually gave people more opportunity to get vaccinated.”

While the carnival is already being considered a massive success from the first weekend, a great deal of work went into making it a successful event for the department. And it takes quite a few hands to keep everything running smoothly at the carnival.

Much of that support and fundraising is credited to the Ladies Auxiliary, who have helped in several ways, such as selling food(like the hand-cut french fries) and raffling off a fire pit this year.

“The Ladies Auxiliary raises money to help the men with expenses, but we buy equipment and help with apparatus and maintenance too,” Cyndi Wood, president of the Hollywood VFD Ladies Auxiliary said. “Our community’s been really good with helping the fire department so that our guys are available to run their calls… Our department has really rocked it this year, ladies and men.”

Although last week broke records, there is still a chance to get in on the fun this weekend. All money raised directly benefits the wonderful volunteers at the Hollywood Fire Department.

The remaining schedule is as follows:

Thursday, August 26: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday, August 27: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday, August 28: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Sunday, August 29: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

These times are a modification from the previous schedule. Mattingly said the change came after realizing that public schools return to classes the next day.

“So, hopefully, the youngsters will be able to come out, still enjoy the carnival, and get home at a reasonable hour,” he said with a chuckle.

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