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Holy Rosary carnival set to resume in Claymont after severe weather causes tree to fall near tent

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Carnival rides sit in the background at Holy Rosary Parish, which was cleaning up the morning of May 29 after a tree fell the night before. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

CLAYMONT – A tree service was at Holy Rosary on the morning of May 29, helping to clear the grounds in front of the pastoral center of the part of a large tree that toppled the previous evening during the parish carnival when a quick-moving storm blew through the area. The tree fell on a tent where a band was playing and people were enjoying the music and a bite to eat.

Bill Moschelle, the parish manager and chairman of the carnival, said he was on the other side of the parish property, near the school, taking cover from the weather.

Pieces of a tree sit on the grounds in front of the pastoral center at Holy Rosary Parish after part of the tree fell the night of May 28 during the annual carnival. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

“All of a sudden I see ambulances coming from the firehouse, and cops started running over there,” he said Wednesday morning. “We didn’t know what it was. Then we came over here and saw this huge tree. It could have been so much worse, so much worse.”

The tree fell around 7:30 p.m. on May 28 as the band King’s Ransom was playing. The tree, which sits along a stone wall near Philadelphia Pike, gave way and hit the end of the tent where drummer Chris Baillif was playing. Moschelle said Baillif was hit by a support post, sending him off the stage. Baillif suffered cuts and bruises but refused medical treatment. The band’s equipment was damaged, but they were very understanding considering the circumstances.

“Once it lightened up a bit, they seemed to be more concerned about the equipment. And the drummer, he said he was sore,” Moschelle said.

Holy Rosary purchases insurance for the carnival, Moschelle said. The rides are insured by their owner, Skelly’s Amusements Inc.

The tent is erected each year on the lawn in front of the pastoral center and provides a place to sit and eat while listening to music away from the rides and games. Moschelle said the rest of the carnival would resume as normal on Wednesday evening, weather permitting, but he wasn’t sure what would happen where the tent stood.

“In the dusk, (the tent) looked like it might be salvageable, but it was totaled. It’s just not usable. I don’t know about this side, but the rest of the carnival can go on,” he said.

As crews cleared branches, Moschelle and a few carnival volunteers milled about the site. He said it was good fortune that the tree fell where it did, or this could have been a real disaster.

“It was a light crowd throughout the carnival because people were looking at the forecast, but there were people under there,” he said.

“We were lucky.”

The carnival runs 6-10 p.m. through June 1.