Hundreds enjoy first night of 120th annual Hilton Firemen’s Carnival

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HILTON, N.Y. (WHEC) — Hundreds of people came out to enjoy the 120th annual Hilton Firemen’s Carnival.

Because of the pandemic, the beloved event almost didn’t make it. The Hilton Fire Department says it waited until the last minute to send any documents of cancellation. Many groups said it was just nice to be out and about with others.

News10NBC did many follow-ups with the department on how tasking it was to get the green light on the event, and through all the restrictions, COVID took a back seat.

For some, the carnival is what they prepare for all year. Judy Nesbitt has worked the Hilton Firemen’s Carnival for 47 years. She was over the moon when she got the call that the event was on.

"I’m glad they were able to pull it off, we need something for people to get out to and feel free to roam again after COVID,” Nesbitt said.

She’s done just about every job you can think of over the years but for her, it’s the smiles, finally without a mask.

"I love watching the people, I’m a people watcher,” Nesbitt said.

News10NBC spoke with many different people and families as they went on rides or grabbed a bite to eat, and one word they all had in common was "normalcy".

"Normal, yes definitely normal, it feels good to see people’s faces without a mask, I don’t feel like we’re in a pandemic right now and it feels good,” Shannon Boseski said.

The Hilton Fire Department is used to fighting fires, but the fight with COVID-19 was a battle they’ll never forget. Carnival Chairman Andy Nichols said to his knowledge they are the only large carnival event to happen in Monroe County since the start of the pandemic.

"This is our biggest fundraiser of the year that we didn’t have last year that many stations didn’t have and we were very lucky to have it,” Nichols said.

The festivities will take place through Saturday. The festival will feature rides, live music and of course, food. Coordinators say the annual parade will also be back at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Nichols said it will be a little different from previous years.

"Realistically, everything is pretty much the same," Nichols said. "There’s no paying to get in the zoo tonight [Wednesday night]. Thers’ no national act but we have amazing local acts. Tonight’s Flink Creek and Begging Angels."

The event is free and attendees pay a one-time price of $25 for the rides.

The hours are 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. through Friday and noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday.

A full schedule can be found here.

For a list of what else is going on around Rochester, check out this list.