It’s still a festival
Recent combining of parishes won’t interrupt 64th annual Our Lady Queen of Martyrs summer staple
WOONSOCKET — A new parish community has been established at 1409 Park Ave., Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Parish, but that won’t affect a city summertime staple, the Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Festival, when it debuts its 64th edition Aug. 1-4.
Three city parishes, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Holy Family on South Main Street, and Sacred Heart on Second Avenue were combined into one on July 1, and the festival’s organizers see that change as an opportunity to bring in new volunteers to help put on the annual parish fundraising event.
Sacred Heart has closed as part of the change, and its families now attend Masses at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs or Holy Family Church. Holy Family offers one Mass at 5 p.m. on Fridays and Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, a 4 p.m. Saturday Mass and the rest of the services on Sunday at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. The changes have also made the Rev. Daniel Sweet of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs the pastor of the combined parish community. Holy Family will continue to offer some services at South Main Street through the next year, as allowed under the combination.
Tina Marcoux, the festival’s committee chair, sees the parish reorganization as an opportunity to bring more parishioners into roles helping to put on the annual carnival. Planning and preparation work for the summer event begins in February each year and is already well along the way to this year’s festival, opening the evening of
Wednesday, Aug. 1.
But that also means there is plenty for new volunteers to take on while working in either the carnival game booths, food service duties or grounds maintenance, according to Marcoux.
“We do have a number of Sacred Heart families coming to Mass here so hopefully we will get some new volunteers,” she explained.
Yes, putting on the annual carnival requires a lot of commitment from the parish volunteers but Marcoux said it can also help people become more active in their church.
“We see it as a good way to integrate them into parish life and help them to feel a part of our community,” she said.
The annual festival raises money for the parish’s programs as well as contributions to local charity projects.
Janet Ballou, a longtime and active member of Sacred Heart, said she had that same idea when she decided to join the festival committee as a way to become involved with the new Holy Trinity Parish at 1409 Park Ave.
“I feel fine with it,” Ballou said while explaining her involvement in the new parish is just a part of moving on from the past. “I feel sad that my church closed,” she said while pointing to Sacred Heart Church as her religious home since the 1960s. “But the Diocese says this is what we are doing, and you do what the Diocese says,” she said.
Ballou said she wasn’t a parish member to sit back and watch at Sacred Heart and she doesn’t plan to let that happen at Holy Trinity Parish either.
“I’m volunteering for the carnival and I am going to continue to do things for the parish and volunteer,” she said.
Although, the parishes have combined into a new parish community, the festival set to open on Aug. 1 will be a classic OLQM carnival, the same mix of exciting amusement rides, food menu, and fundraising games that have marked the midpoint of summer at Park Square for decades.
Marcoux said Rockwell Amusements is back again with its lineup of rides again this year and will open on Wednesday with a “ride all night” bracelet for $25. Discount coupons will also be available at businesses around the city for $2 off the cost of the bracelet, she noted. The rides will open at 6 p.m. and continue until 11 p.m., she noted.
Fireworks are scheduled to be held on Thursday night with a rain date of Friday, and Jeff Gamache will be performing at the carnival on Saturday beginning around 6 or 7 p.m. and continuing to the start of the Big Drawing raffles as the festival comes to a close.
A matinee amusement ride bracelet good from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. will also be offered on Saturday, she said.
The Big Drawing tickets will be going on sale at the festival booth on Park Avenue on July 26 and this year will be offered at cost of $1, down from $2 last year, and 6 tickets for $5, 12 tickets for $10, or 25 tickets for $20. The big prizes are again a first prize of $5,000, second prize of $2,500, and third prize of $1,500. There will be $500 prizes for the fourth- and fifth-prize drawings.
A new fundraising addition, the Prize-A-Rama, will be run by Ballou, Marcoux said. The drawing will raffle off items such as a bicycle, a television, certificates and more, she said.
And then there is the festival’s food, the trademark local dynamites, chowder and clam cakes, burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers and fries offered through “Ronaldo’s Kitchen,” soft drinks and more, she noted.
It will be another summertime festival at Park Square that city residents always attend in droves.
“When they come to the festival, they won’t notice any difference, just the lower prices for the raffle and Prize-A-Rama, just small changes,” Marcoux said.
A new parish community has been established at 1409 Park Ave., Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Parish, but that won’t affect a city summertime staple, the Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Festival, when it debuts its 64th edition Aug. 1-4.