Thrill rides and game booths, colored lights flashing in the warm darkness of a late summer night, the throb of loud music and the screams of the kids on the rides — the carnival’s in town.

The makings of it are visible to anyone driving along Danbury Road, Route 35, and passing by the Recreation Center’s big field, across from the Fox Hill condominiums. There is something wonderfully innocent about a carnival — everything’s so bold, so loud, so brightly lit. The kids love it, and so parents enjoy taking them there — just maybe not all night.

And the grown-ups may find, if they look in the musty corners of their hearts, something sentimental and sweet about the carnival. Its bluster and boisterousness may be tinged, paradoxically, with something a little sad — the lonely call of some lost 1950s America, or perhaps the haunting echo of their own youth, and forgotten innocence.

The carnival is about more than fun, though. It supports two of Ridgefield’s worthy youth-oriented organizations: The Ridgefield Boys and Girls Club and the Ridgefield Prevention Council.

Sponsoring educational speakers and programs, providing support to families, the Ridgefield Prevention Council fights drugs, alcohol, and the deep lasting damage that the scourge of substance abuse can do to young people and families.

And the Ridgefield Boys and Girls Club provides kids from grade school through high school with activities that are safe, healthy and fun — the always elusive “something to do.” The club has after-school programs and summer camp. But it’s not just fun and games. Values like fairness and sportsmanship are modeled in activities, while programs for older kids specifically address community service and citizenship.

The fall carnival in Ridgefield is this weekend, Friday, Sept. 20 through Sunday Sept. 22.

Carnival hours are: Friday, 6-10; Saturday, 4-10; Sunday, 1-5.

Don’t miss it