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The carnival offers a variety of rides.

Gillette Carnival Returns to Berkshire Mall For 8th Year

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The carnival has been at the Berkshire Mall for the last eight years.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Back in the 1940s, the Gillettes would set up and run carnivals all around Pontoosuc Lake. 
 
Pittsfield brothers Jules, Art and Gene started up the Gillette Carnival in 1947 and it has grown to become a family affair. It takes the family throughout the Northeast during the summer but they always start the year at home.
 
"It was important coming back here. It is for two great organizations, Lanesborough Police Association and Stars of Hope," Jerry Gillette, who now owns the carnival his father had begun, said.
 
"And it is home for me. I'm from Pittsfield. It is good to do local events for local people."
 
On Thursday, the carnival returned to the Berkshire Mall for its eighth consecutive year. For the next 10 days, area families can enjoy an array of rides, games, and food and at the same time support local business and local charities.
 
"We try to have something for everybody -- kiddie rides, a couple thrill rides for teenagers, and merry-go-rounds for grandpa and grandma to bring their grandkids. It is a family-oriented carnival," Gillette said.
 
On weeknights, the carnival is open from 5 until 9 or 10. On Saturday it is open from 1 to 10 and on Sunday from 1 to 6. The carnival offers a wristband special on some nights when one can ride all of the rides all they want for $15. 
 
This year, Gillette said he is expanding the special on Saturdays.
 
"We're going to go all night, we're not going to stop it. We're going to go 1 to 9, 9:30, whenever we close," Gillette said, adding that previously the Saturdays ended at 5.
 
Wristband nights are all day Saturday and Sunday, and on Monday and Thursday from 5 until 9.
 
A portion of the sales when the carnival is home goes to the Lanesborough Police Association and Stars of Hope. The Police Association gives the money back to local youth through sports programs and scholarships.
 
"All of the officers donate their time here. There is always an officer here for security. The money the Gillettes give us, we give back to the community. We use the money for scholarships and we support a lot of the athletics here in Lanesborough -- all of the youth teams, baseball, soccer," said Sgt. Brad Lepicier. 
 
"Last year we gave money to Berkshire Force, the youth-12 softball team. They made it to the World Series in Florida so we donated some money. Two years ago, the Lanesborough Tigers juniors won the Super Bowl so they got trophies and each got a championship jacket."
 
He added, "all of the money raised here goes back to the community."
 
Stars of Hope is another organization that helps youth programs such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Jimmy Fund and Make a Wish.
 
The carnival will be in mall parking lot for nearly two weeks, ending on Sunday, May 12, before it heads off to other cities and towns. Gillette said the carnival sets up in different areas in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York until mid-October. 

Tags: benefit,   Berkshire Mall,   carnival,   

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