The Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department Parade kicked off at 7 p.m. on Monday and that wasn't a moment too soon for 4-year-old Emerson Stoltzfus.
The Arbutus resident alternated between holding her hands over her ears and putting her fingers in them to guard against the squeals of the sirens that first came from the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department vehicles and then by about nine other emergency responders.
With her brother Lane, 2, and sister Reiland, 11 months, next to her and sporting yellow ear plugs, Emerson would occasionally remove a hand to wave to the firefighters and marchers who went by.
The 90-minute parade lit up downtown Arbutus with emergency vehicles and marching bands as it kicked off the annual carnival for the 74th year with its usual array of rides and games from Shaw and Sons Amusements.
Alongside food vendors, games, and a dunk tank, more than a dozen rides for kids of all ages swirled.
With many still at the parade, Yale Heights residents, Arnya Jones, 9, and Dontae Buckler Jr., 4, rode the Go-Gator mini roller coaster by themselves at 8 p.m.
"I think it was cool," Arnya said, admitting she was a bit scared of the roller coaster. "It was going kind of fast."
"I wasn't scared," her brother replied, as he eyed the tall Ferris wheel next to him.
Since Dontae was too short for the Ferris wheel, they went to a nearby merry-go-round and rode dinosaurs with broad smiles.
The carnival, and a mailing the department sends out requesting funds, are among the department's biggest fundraisers, said Glen Peacock, the carnival chairman.
Depending on the weather, the event typically brings in between $25,000 and $35,000 for the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department, Peacock said.
"If it's very hot, people aren't going to come down," the 25-year Arbutus volunteer said. "If it's raining, we have to shut down."
The carnival is due for some good weather.
"A couple of years ago, we dealt with thunderstorms every night," the 39-year Arbutus resident recalled. "Last year, we had to deal with heat every night."
Money raised by the carnival goes directly into the department's general fund and helps offset the operating costs of the 74-year-old station, which serves a 40-square-mile area, Peacock said.
In addition to purchasing equipment and maintaining the firehouse, the department needs funds for a two-story addition to the side of its station that would house office spaces.
The Arbutus department also has an eye on acquiring a new $750,000 heavy-duty rescue squad to replace the 20-year-old vehicle it currently uses to transport personnel and equipment, Peacock said.
Aside from the carnival games, rides and food, the department plans to draw people to the fundraiser with giveaways and the opportunity to win trips.
Representatives from Hershey Park will attend the carnival and hand out passes for admission into its Pennsylvania theme park.
The grand prize winner of a raffle will receive a cruise to the Bahamas and 106.5 DJs Jojo and Reagan will award a trip for two to Atlantic City on Wednesday, Peacock said.
Peacock said holding the carnival in the middle of summer is best time of year for the department because it avoids the flurry of spring and fall festivals.
"The only thing we compete with in July is vacation or the weather," Peacock said.
People don't just fill up on cotton candy, funnel cake and other treats available at the annual parade and carnival run by the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department.
Sorrento of Arbutus, for example, was prepared for an uptick in business during a typically slow time of year when the six-day carnival kicked off Monday night.
"We definitely do more business, especially on parade day," said Ella Kostinsky, owner of Sorrento of Arbutus, about three blocks from the fire station. "It definitely is busier that week than the rest of the summer."
With people taking vacations and cooking out more often, business slows in July for the popular restaurant on East Drive, she said.
Though Sorrento of Arbutus is a sponsor of the carnival, which runs 7-11 p.m. July 16-21, the eatery does not sell food at the site.
Its increased business comes from families stopping by before a night of fun, Kostinsky said.
"It's a festive time," Kostinsky said. "Arbutus kind of comes alive during that week."
This story has been updated.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun