GREENBURGH, N.Y. – As the sun began to set in Greenburgh, families flocked to Hartsdale's Richard Presser Park to munch on buttery popcorn and ride the motorcycle merry-go-round.
Through Sunday, Hartsdale's Kiwanis Club is hosting its annual fundraiser, acquiring funds for local, national and international causes.
"I can't even describe what it feels like to give back to the community," said longtime Kiwanis member Claudia White. "Every time we do something, I feel like I'm having a birthday party, because I know we've done something to help someone in need."
The money raised from the carnival – now running for more than 20 years – is distributed back to Greenburgh. The club recently stuffed backpacks for the Lois Bronz Children's Center; organized a winter coat drive; and donated to pediatrics programs, the Greenburgh Nature Center and the Greenburgh Police Department's Community Emergency Response Team.
On an international level, the club is currently partnered with UNICEF to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus.
"It's a fabulous feeling," said Linda Witzling, the Hartsdale Kiwanis Club president. "It's wonderful to know that you are raising this money that can help so many people – some in little ways and some in big ways. As part of a large national and international organization, we get to really spread it around."
At the carnival, the smell of french fries and sweet sugar filled the air as children waited in line to board the Ferris wheel, the Teacups, the Hillbilly Express and the Dizzy Dragon.
A mother wiped her daughter's hand, covered in cotton candy, as another daughter sipped ice-cold lemonade. More young children squealed to their parents, begging to ride the roller coasters.
"It's the whole atmosphere here," White said. "You can smell the sausage and peppers cooking. And the community gets to meet each other. Part of the highlight is being able to speak with people locally. It really is festive and wonderful for us."
For more than 20 years, the carnival has continued to grow and attendance rates have become larger, White said.
"There's nothing in the entire world like being a volunteer," she said. "We all like to feel like we can do something to help people in need. Kiwanis certainly fills the gap there."
The carnival will be open from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 9 p.m. Sunday.