CARLSBAD — Spirits were high as the Kelly Elementary School community gathered for its annual Fall into Fun Carnival on Oct. 16, just a week after a gunman fired shots and injured two second-grade students on campus.
Families donned their best costumes at the Halloween-themed event to show their support for a school and local community that are stronger than ever after last week’s tragedy.
“This makes us happy and makes us feel good,” Kelly School fifth-grader Jenna Anderson said. “Something bad happened and we brought it back with a lot of happiness.”
Kelly’s campus was positively buzzing with activity as costumed children participated in a cakewalk, toured the “Trick or Treat House” and picked pumpkins from
a Trader Joe’s-sponsored pumpkin patch.
Lines formed for carnival games, like Outrageous Outhouse and Lollipop Lane, at booths sponsored by Kelly’s many classes. Kids participated in a costume contest hoping to secure the “Best Overall” title, as well as “Best Superhero” and “Most Magical.”
“Everything is getting back to normal and it seems that everyone is healing,” Carlsbad Unified School District board of trustees candidate and parent Ray Pearson said.
Kelly neighbor Scott Chandler — who helped construction workers Mario Contreras, Carlos Partida and Steven Kane tackle shooting suspect Brendan L. O’Rourke, 41 — was happy to see the number of families in attendance at the event.
“It was a handful of miracles that happened that day,” Chandler said, after recounting the details of his experience that Friday. His three daughters — two former Kelly students — joined him at the festival that was held just yards away from their home. “This school and staff are super strong people; I came out here to support them.”
Local food vendors fed the masses, including Hot Dog on a Stick, Sun City Italian Ice, Little Caesars Pizza and Senor Grubby’s. In the wake of the shooting, several pledged to donate the day’s profits back to the school.
“After what happened, we wanted to give back,” Justin Jachura of Senor Grubby’s said.
Following the event, he estimated a donation of sales nearing $1,000. “If we could do more, we would, but we at least wanted to give what we could.”
The annual Fall into Fun Carnival is a fundraiser to supplement Kelly Elementary School’s under-funded programs. P.E., art and music classes, as well as the Books and Beyond Reading Program, are boosted through the funds that combat state and local budget cuts.