Big with a Capital 'B'


There are carnivals, and then there is the Big (with a capital B) Glen Burnie Carnival.

It's more gaudy. It's more raucous. It has more silly games, more junky food, more tacky prizes and enough spinning, twirling, rocketing rides to leave your stomach churning for a month.

You won't want to miss it.

The carnival isn't just for kids. It's a neighborhood festival, a place to bump into old friends you haven't seen in years. An excuse to indulge in sins like those fat-laden funnel cakes and candy apples. A chance to cast aside adult inhibitions long enough to try tossing a ring for some hideous stuffed, pink Snoopy doll or screaming bloody murder on the Rok-O-Plane.

More than mere fun, however, the carnival bears testament to Glen Burnie's long history of volunteerism and civic pride. The money you spend to ride the Ferris wheel or break-the-plate goes to make Glen Burnie a better place.

It has always been that way.

The first Glen Burnie carnival, which was held in 1908, was the brainstorm of a group of town fathers who wanted to raise money to build sidewalks down the center of the community. The streets were made of dusty oyster shells then, and the ladies didn't like walking through them.

Muriel Carter, who is president of the Glen Burnie Improvement Association and the resident carnival expert, says the big attraction that first year was a 10-cent ride in an automobile. Some riders back then scoffed that this new invention would be a bust. Eighty-five years later, most Glen Burnie residents would pay more than that for a good parking space!

But you can still get a hot dog for only 50 cents and a small soda for a quarter. The children can ride all night every night for one price at this fair. (Most other carnivals have only one such all-night deal). And the atmosphere remains distinctly family-oriented; organizers set it up so every little kid wins something before he or she leaves. By the time the festivities wind down Saturday, Aug. 7, the GBIA expects to net about $125,000, all of which will be pumped into community projects, ++ events and institutions.

The carnival grounds are located on Crain Highway at Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., behind the GBIA building. The gates open at 7 tonight. Make sure you get there before the week is out. And during these slow-moving dog days, most of us could use a good, rollicking ride on the Rok-O-Plane.

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