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Major fundraiser coming up for HOTL Elementary

The Heart of the Lakes Elementary School's spring carnival will be held Friday, March 25 from 4-7 p.m. in Perham. Photo by Ashley Bergen.

Forget Rio Carnival.

The kids at Perham's Heart of the Lakes Elementary School are preparing their largest party of the year.

The ninth annual Heart of the Lakes Elementary School carnival will be held Friday, March 25 from 4-7 p.m.

For the next two weeks students will be selling raffle tickets for $1. The grand prize is a hand-carved wooden bench depicting Leonardo DaVinci's "Last Supper."

The grand prize bench was carved by Patrick Kilby of Sugar Creek Woodworking in Ottertail. Kilby donated his work to the school district last year to help raise money.

Other prizes include donations from area businesses including gift certificates, savings bonds and much more.

"The kids get really excited about it," according to Principal Kari Yates.

Last year the students sold about 15,000 tickets at $1 each.

"The carnival is the primary, really only fundraiser we currently do at Heart of the Lakes during the school year," Yates said.

Proceeds go to the school's arts program, technology and special classroom projects. In the past, the carnival has funded playground equipment, technology and a guided reading library.

The school held a kick-off event on March 11 to get the kids excited to sell rickets.

Sunshine the Clown and his trained tiger Raffle entertained the kids and also helped reinforce how fun the carnival will be and how to properly sell raffle tickets.

As in previous years, this year's carnival will include food, games, prizes and a silent auction.

For the auction, every classroom chooses a theme and contributes a themed basket or baskets to be sold off.

Food will include pizza, hot turkey sandwiches, cotton candy, ice cream, fruit and vegetables.

Games and activities include a tattoo parlor, minnow races, a princess parlor, Plinko and large inflatables.

Yates gave credit to the success of the carnival to a steering committee of dedicated parents that organize the event every year, or the "carnival moms."

The group begins planning as early as November, Yates said, and gathers up to 130 volunteers to assist each year.

"We'd love to have volunteers from the community and parents," Yates said. "We're also open to silent auction donations of any kind from the community. And we're encouraging people to think outside the basket."

Past donations for the auction include a plane ride, concert or event tickets.

There is no charge for admission to the carnival, but tickets are purchased at the door for games and food. Raffle tickets are available for purchase through any Heart of the Lakes student, or by calling the school at 218-346-KIDS. Those interested in volunteering at the carnival are also asked to call.