Maercker PTA Fun Fair Raises Money, Brings Community Together
As music from Disney’s Princess and the Frog blasted through the speakers from the heart of Westview Hills Middle School, kids raced through an inflatable obstacle course while others tried to soak their principal in the silly shower at Maercker PTA’s annual fun fair fundraiser on March 2. Purple, green and gold decor, complete with masks, beads and fleur de lis symbols decorated the school, showing off the Mardi Gras theme for one of the most popular events of the year.
Maercker PTA vice president Lesley Wright said there was a decent turnout but attendance was lower than a few years ago. The fair was still popular as many students and parents came to support the entire district and enjoy the event.
“People were excited about what we had,” Wright said.
Like typical fairs and carnivals, the PTA fun fair had plenty of games for everyone to play, from pop-a-shot basketball to ring toss to multiple bean bag toss games. There were also non-competitive activities like face painting and an inflatable moon bounce. Anyone who played games and did activities got tickets as prizes, which could be redeemed in the prize room, like at an arcade.
Face painting was Isabella Youngfelt’s favorite part of the fair as she had two pink hearts on her cheeks, but she also played lots of games. Isabella’s mom said she played “everything.”
“That’s why the wristbands are the best idea,” her mom said. And having everything here in one school and doing it in a big school instead of trying to do it like Holmes do one, Maercker do one. Just having everything together in one place [is great].”
Wristbands were for sale and offered an alternative to tickets. Instead of buying a bunch of game tickets to play lots of games or do activities, community members could buy a wristband that would allow them to play any game or do anything a ticket would also admit.
Tickets were also on sale for the 105 different raffles the PTA organized.
Popular raffle prizes included a Nintendo Switch, ultimate ninja passes, Cypress Cove aquatic park passes, Hinsdale and Downers Grove high school spiritwear and restaurant and spa gift cards; so there were raffles to appeal to both the students and parents.
“It’s a real good mix,” Wright said. “We try to have something for everyone.”
The bigger prizes like the Nintendo Switch were part of $5 or $10 raffles, but most were $1 raffles. The PTA likes to have many $1 raffles because it’s more affordable but also because it’s good for the community.
“A lot of our district is low income, so we want there to be a cheaper raffle,” Wright said. “And we want there to be a lot of them so more people get to win.”
Some of the same people won multiple prizes, though, showing how well-liked the raffles are, as there were many prizes one person or family had enough interest in to enter. Wright, who ran the raffles this year, said a few families likely spent $100 on raffles alone.
To further prove how much community members enjoy raffles, Wright said some came prepared, bringing the free mailing address labels that come in the mail to stick to the back of the raffle ticket to make entering that much easier.
Almost all of the raffle prizes were donated, and the PTA made about $2500 from the raffles.
In terms of games, perhaps the most popular was the silly shower as students were eager to throw the beanbag at the target in hopes of triggering the showerhead to drench Holmes School Principal Sepich or one of a few teacher who also volunteered.
“That’s always a really big hit,” Wright said. “The kids love soaking Principal Sepich. He gets in every year, and that is the thing that they all run for. They probably drop $750 on the silly shower when he’s in there.”
The silly shower was one of four premium games/activities. A premium game or activity required a $1 premium ticket even with a wristband.
With nearly 20 games, two big inflatables and 105 raffles, the PTA required lots of time and help to prepare. Maercker administrators, staff, teachers, parents and even students played their part to make the fundraiser successful. Parents helped with games, the prize room and baking and buying treats for the cake walk. Staff and teachers ran games and sold tickets and wristbands. Students also helped run games and did face painting.
“Westview has a wonderful group of kids who love to volunteer,” Wright said. “So even though it’s a districtwide event and the eighth graders are welcome to play, we get a lot of them come help.”
One group who recognizes the helpful nature of Maercker is the family of Darian Galan, a new student at Maercker School, who said his favorite part was playing games.
“We just moved here from Texas,” Galan’s mom said. “We’ve been here about a month, so this is our first fun fair. So we’ve never really attended one, but it’s fun.
“Everybody at Maercker is super sweet. Everybody’s been real helpful and friendly, and that’s one of the main reasons we picked Westmont. We knew the district was a really good district, and everyone’s been really helpful.”
The fun fair is a testament to what the Galan family has witnessed in just one month. After 12 hours of setup on Friday and another 10 hours of more setup and cleanup on Saturday, the PTA put together an event to raise money for the students, thanks to many volunteers ― office staff, administration, teachers, parents, students and even Westview alumni ― helping out.
“It’s a really nice community feeling,” Wright said. “Our community is really great about creating that, because Maercker, we don’t have one town to attach to. We’re little chunks of five different connecting towns all in this space. So we don’t have one park district where our kids do classes or one town that we do the activities at. So we kind of make our own home. It’s nice for us to get together and do things like this and build that community feeling. I think it’s really important since we don’t have that [one town], to make our own community.”
And although Maercker School District isn’t in one town or village, it hasn’t mattered.
“‘It takes a village’ is what we always say,” Wright said. “It’s our thing.”