The Canalside Boardwalk Carnival appears to have been a grand success this weekend, in more ways than the sheer number of attendees. The large turnout of visitors to the carnival created an atmosphere that was reminiscent of the days of Crystal Beach (I worked there when I was young). But there was something else, apart from the thousands of visitors, that I found to be of interest.
For the first time, it looked as if a diverse crowd of people, hailing from all corners of the city, descended upon the waterfront. Sailboats and bikes and beer gardens are all marvelous assets that draw hoards of people to the water’s edge throughout the summer months. It turned out to be a carnival, however, that ultimately appealed to a wider demographic.
Whether it was the rides, the games, the food… or just the idea of an “open invitation” that a carnival delivers, word of the festivities traveled far and wide, which changed the face of Canalside for a spell.
After spending a few minutes at the carnival, watching all of the people, I headed over to the Old First Ward. While sitting on the front stoop of The Swannie House, cars would pull up and drivers would ask how to get to the carnival (at Canalside). The carnival was like a giant magnet that was pulling families from all over the city. My hope it that the ephemeral attraction has opened the eyes of an ethnically diverse community, and the same families will opt to come back and experience more of the waterfront offerings in the future.