The Rotary Club Carnival returns to Needham starting July 18/ Credit: Needham Observer

Next week Needhamites can expect rides, fried food and good old-fashioned fun at the eighth annual Needham Carnival sponsored by the Rotary Club of Needham. The carnival will run from Thursday, July 18, to Sunday, July 21, at Needham High School’s upper lot.

“There are a lot of children’s rides, kiddie rides and a lot of family rides. And, of course, some thrill rides for the teenagers,” said Ted Shaughnessy, who started the Rotary Club fundraiser and misses the carnivals he grew up attending in Needham.

It took Shaughnessy nearly a decade to secure the proper venue, permits and certification to run the first carnival in 2017. He partnered with Cushing Amusements out of Wilmington to provide rides and entertainment.

“It’s really wonderful to have the event back in Needham,” said Bill Paulson, head of publicity for the event. “And it’s awesome that people are creating memories. And, you know, being a part of that is really cool.”

Now in its eighth year, the fundraiser stands as a reminder of the Rotary Club’s constant effort to give back to the community, creating an accessible and laid-back, fun environment where families can enjoy themselves year after year.

“We try to make it accessible to everybody,” said Shaughnessy. “The whole point to this is a fun community event for everyone.”

The Rotary Club donates $5,000 in free rides to the Needham Community Council and the Needham-based Charles River Center, a nonprofit that provides employment training, housing and recreational programs to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Admission to the carnival is free, but ride tickets must be purchased — along with a variety of classic fair foods such as cotton candy and fried Oreos. Rides cost four to six tickets each. 

Proceeds from concessions and tickets help fund community efforts such as the Rotary Club’s college scholarships for Needham High School students and charitable work with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Boston.

Tickets can be purchased online or in-person. Wristbands for unlimited rides from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday can be purchased for $34 online or $40 if bought at the ticket stand. More information on times and ticket pricing can be found at

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