A giant rat wearing sunglasses sat on a large inflatable obstacle course in the parking lot of Elizabeth Lane Elementary on the last Saturday in April.
The rodent was a welcome sight for the kids who attended the 13th annual Hawkfest, a romp of rides, bouncy inflatables, food and prizes. The school fundraiser draws about 3,000 people from Elizabeth Lane Elementary and the surrounding communities.
This year's event featured eight inflatable rides, a large mechanical swing and laser tag. Kids also competed in tug-of-war battles and sack races on the playground.
For those who took a break from the rides, there were hair-painting booths and a M.A.S.H. tent where kids could get colored plaster casts to wear on their arms.
Plum Whitney and Matt Brockman, members of the PTA Executive Board at Elizabeth Lane, started planning in November for the spring event.
After squaring away a couple of volunteers to coordinate details like T-shirt sales and raffle tickets, they began making preparations.
Prior to this year's Boosterthon Fun Run, Hawkfest traditionally has been the largest fundraiser for the school.
"We have profited anything from $25,000 to, one year, just shy of $40,000," said Whitney.
The proceeds from the event contribute to the general PTA budget and provide "everything from curriculum needs for the classroom to technology," said Brockman.
This includes large items, like buses for field trips, to small details such as glaze for pottery projects, said Whitney, mother of Elizabeth Lane third-grader Jack.
Brockman and Whitney say they are grateful to the many local businesses that sponsored the event and provided discounts for prizes. Starr Orthodontics was this year's presenting sponsor.
"A lot of our sponsors are long-term sponsors," said Whitney.
According to Whitney, running the event takes about 170 volunteers, including the Providence High Key Club, parents and teachers.