As spring training begins, bringing hope for warmer weather, the Exeter Township Senior High School baseball team prepares to bring a little bit of spring to the community.

On February 20, 2016, the team hosted its annual Winter Carnival, an event started about ten years ago to raise money for the baseball parent’s club. Tired of the same fundraisers every other team was doing, the parents decided to host a carnival. The event has become the equivalent to May Days, an outdoor carnival hosted by the township every spring on the school grounds.

The Winter Carnival is an event that allows parents to get their kids out of the house after a long winter and let them have some fun. Activities range from typical carnival games, such as a moon bounce and ring toss, to a football toss, a session in the batting cage, and even an opportunity to pie a teacher in the face.

Head baseball coach Justin Freese says that the carnival is a great way for the players to interact with the community, and vice-versa.

The carnival is staffed by the baseball players, who are required to work from 10-5 and assist with set-up and cleanup, as well as staffing every game and activity. Players get the opportunity to interact with the community, especially the youngest members of the community, and create some new fans. They also earn community service hours, which help them to fulfill a graduation retirement.

“It makes me happy to see how they are, not only as students, but then also working with kids in the community,” Freese says.

Exeter residents play games at the annual Winter Carnival hosted by the baseball team. Photo: Ariane Cain

Exeter residents play games at the annual Winter Carnival hosted by the baseball team. Photo: Ariane Cain

Exeter High School transforms for the carnival, with the cafeteria, main gymnasium, and auxiliary gymnasium all used to hold the various games and activities. The gym lobby becomes a necessary pit stop, with the concessions stands selling all of the necessary ballpark foods throughout the day.

The raffle is one of the biggest moneymakers each year, with every prize being donated by local community businesses. The Reading Fightin’ Phils offer support by providing raffle prizes including ticket packs, bobble heads, T-shirts and much more. The raffle also has prizes sponsored by local stores such as Boscov’s Department Store and Coventry Corners.

The carnival is always a popular event, and one that is greatly appreciated by the members of the community.

“Just the opportunity to get the kids out in the winter,” Freese says when considering what the community enjoys the most about the carnival. “This year unfortunately it was a sixty degree day, so I don’t know if that helped or hurt us.”

The unseasonable weather did not seem to hurt too much, with the event raising about $2,000 for the team.

With the baseball players, ballpark food, and baseball theme the Winter Carnival serves as a symbol to Exeter residents that spring is on the way.