The William "Bill" Austen Youth Center will host its first ever Spring Carnival to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida.
Helping to kick off the Pennies from the Heart campaign, the event takes place April 13 from noon to 4 p.m. The campaign is a monthlong fund-raising effort by the community for the regional Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Jodie Mascari, a recreational specialist with the city, explained that the center collects soda or pull tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. About a year ago, they started wondering how else they could become involved.
"We we're just looking to see how we could combine those efforts into Pennies from the Heart," Angela Katz, event coorindator with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida, said.
"We've actually been working on this since October," she said.
The event will feature carnival-style games and prizes.
"All the games are fun, but they're simple," Mascari said, adding that the Ronald McDonald House has donated toys to use for the prizes.
"As kids play the games, they're going to receive tickets," Katz said, adding that children will get tickets for winning, but also for simply playing.
"Basically, everybody that comes will end up getting a prize," Mascari said.
A rocket launch club that meets at the center will provide visitors with a demonstration, as well as those taking part in the center's dance classes.
"They're going to do a little recital," Mascari said.
At 3 p.m., Ronald McDonald will perform a magic show. He also will be available for a meet and greet, autographs and pictures with the children.
There will also be a crafts area set up and face painting.
"There's going to be all kinds of activities that are planned," Katz said.
Another activity is Game Guys, which offers mobile video games.
"They have a huge trailer - it's a lot of fun," Mascari said. "They're donating an hour and a half of their time."
The cost is $5 per child 3 years of age and older.
"We wanted to make it for families, not just for kids," she said. "All the admission proceeds will go directly to the Ronald McDonald House."
Katz added that the event is great for families with multiple children.
"It's a great community event, it's a great family event, it's affordable," she said. "And yet it is going to charity at the same time."
Food and drinks will be available for purchase.
Door prizes will be given away, including tickets to Sun Splash Family Waterpark, Coral Oaks Golf Course, Bamboozles and more.
Organizers are shooting for at least 400 attendees.
"Two thousand dollars would be fabulous," Katz said, adding that the Ronald McDonald House hopes the Spring Carnival will became an annual event.
"It's the first time, so we're hoping we have a great turnout so we can continue to do this," she said.
Limited vendor spaces are available for $25. For more information, contact Angela Katz at (239) 437-0202. The deadline to sign up is Wednesday.
The William "Bill" Austen Youth Center is at 315 S.E. Second Ave.