Indoors under a sky-blue big top, the weather forecast is always sunny and warm.
``It's fun to hang out with friends and family and have a good time,'' said Celeste Messing Saturday at the 4th annual Moose Lodge Charity Carnival, while drizzle and fog made the great Alaska outdoors not particularly welcome.
Messing was eating popcorn and watching a friend's 2-month old daughter, Eden Homer. Occasionally she bent down to observe the progress of Drake Homer, 16 months, as he maneuvered through a 55-foot caterpillar.
When Candice Homer, 20, emerged with Drake, all he wanted was to dive out of her arms.
``He wants to go again,'' Homer said.
Kelly Freng of the Southeast Alaska Food Bank was collecting tickets from kids anxious to take on the caterpillar's bumps, slides, ribbon curtains and rope ladder. Freng admitted the funhouse-like insect attracted adults, too.
``I have been through it a couple times; it's pretty cool, actually,'' he said.
Calliope music tinkled, as kids and adults tried their hands at games of chance and skill. A member of the clown group, the Juneau Joeys, added to the fun with iridescent bubbles, which wafted among the crowd.
Dressed in a lime green bowler hat, orange pants and a remarkable nose, the clown admitted to the name of Lorenzo el Magnifico el Bombastico el Curioso el Perfectamento el Mustachio Selah - Das Doofus for short.
``It's the easiest job in the world,'' said Doofus, as he allowed the crowd to try his bubbling equipment.
Kids were avid for the prizes -- two big van loads, ranging from all sizes of Tweety Birds to blue dinosaurs and pink pigs. Raymond Rice, 11, helped out with games for a while.
``But then I got my allowance from my mom,'' he explained, as he squeezed a yellow Pikachu into a sack. He had won the peck-basket-size creature by tossing frogs onto lily pads. The lily pond was the game operated by Outdoor Rec and Community Access. And Pikachu, familiar to Pokemon fans everywhere, was Rice's fifth prize before noon.
``We don't want no kids leaving here with no prizes,'' said Rhine Fluck, a former Moose officer. ``If they are too little to play the games, we give them an animal.''
There were also baskets of consolation prizes, ranging from water pistols to purple back scratchers. At least one toddler thought the scratcher made a heck of a rake for the woodchips under foot.
The Glory Hole was raising funds with a ``Goblets of Plenty'' game, in which the aim is to get a whiffle ball into a wine glass. Across the way, kids were throwing bean bags at the ``fat cats'' of the American Legion of Auke Bay's booth.
``I think the carnival is fantastic,'' said Skip Lakeman, nibbling an orange snow cone and watching his wife, Sally, and daughter, Andrea, 2, at play.
In addition to snow cones, food available at the compact indoor midway included corn dogs, barbecued beef ribs, burgers and egg rolls. And right outside was the Lion Jump, an amusement owned by the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie No. 4200. The green, orange and yellow lion contains inflated baffles, said Eagle Darryl Farmer. ``Kids bounce up and down and have a heck of a good time,'' Farmer said. ``The parents like it because it's a good babysitter and kind of tires the kids out.''
The Moose Lodge Charity Carnival continues today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Dimond Park, next to Riverbend Elementary School, on Riverside Drive. Proceeds go to local charities including the Gastineau Channel Senior Center, Girl Scouts, The Glory Hole, Helping Hands, Juneau Deaf Center and Crime Line. Sponsors include State Farm, AERO Services, Delta Alaska Wholesale, Glacier Muffler and Towing, Cameron Plumbing and Heating, and Shattuck and Grummett.
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