St. William the Abbot Roman Catholic Church is normally a solemn place, reserved for prayer and reflection.
But for one week each summer, this house of worship becomes a center for flashing lights, carnival games and homemade zeppoles.
On Wednesday, the church kicked off its 36th annual Family Festival in Seaford.
Located on Jackson Avenue, the carnival runs until Sunday from 6 to 11 p.m. and features rides for kids, Las Vegas-style casino games, food and Long Island bands performing each night.
“It’s not just a parish thing,” said Father Paul Butler, 61. “It’s a neighborhood event. It’s a great opportunity for people to gather and have fun.”
The family festival is held each summer to raise money for the parish and the St. William the Abbot School in Seaford. The parish expects to raise about $60,000 this week.
“I enjoy everything,” said Tom Dehaan, 61, of Seaford. “ Everybody’s happy, everybody’s smiling. It’s a great time to be together with family and friends.”
Guests also have the opportunity to enter a raffle to win a Toyota Prius or $25,000. The grand-prize winner is chosen on Sunday.
The festival is one of the church’s largest fundraisers of the year and draws thousands of people from the surrounding area.
“It’s a great community,” said Kristin Gates, 40, of Wantagh. “It’s great to come and see people we know, support the church, and have fun.”