As kids ran, skipped or toddled from room to room for games and craft projects Saturday at a Mardi Gras carnival at Western Nevada Community College's Child Development Center, some of their parents were getting their first exposure to the center's facilities and programs.
"We decided to do a carnival for Mardi Gras because it's fun for the children," center director Claudia Funk said.
"But a secondary goal was to draw more families in here to learn about our programs and services."
Carnival activities were designed for children 18 months to 7 years old. The children glued feathers and sparkles to masks to make their own Mardi Gras disguises, while some chose to get their faces painted. Children also visited the "fish pond," or hid in a tent made of neckties. And still others collected beads so they could string them together for Mardi Gras necklaces.
All the while, recorded accordions played lively Cajun Zydeco music and the smell of jambalaya and black beans and rice wafted from the dining area.
Over 50 parent volunteers, staff members and WNCC students staffed two shifts to keep the carnival rolling.
"I want to thank both the many sponsors who contributed to make this carnival happen and all the folks here who helped put it on," Funk said. She said the organizers would like the carnival to become an annual event.
Funk said she did not keep track of how many children enjoyed the carnival, but said she met many new parents.
The Child Development Center on the WNCC campus provides care and education for children from toddlers through kindergartners. Each classroom is guided by a head teacher active in early childhood education training, as well as trained assistant teachers and aides.
Parental involvement is an integral part of the center's operations, through Parent Action Committees.