Big Eli Rides Open Today

By Benjamin Cox on June 5, 2022 at 9:51am

The Rotary Club of Jacksonville opens its 2022 summer schedule for for the Big Eli Ferris Wheel rides today in Community Park.

Chair of the Ferris Wheel Committee Gina Hayes says that with the support of local companies and organizations, the Rotary provides free rides to the community each summer on Sundays. Beginning today, the wheel will operate each Sunday in Community Park, weather permitting, through September 29th from 4-6PM. Each weekend is sponsored by a different local business or entity to keep the rides free to the public.

The Big Eli season officially ends on Halloween Night with the “Halloween Squeal at the Wheel” event from 5-8PM. Hayes says the Halloween event is one of the Rotary’s most favorite events of the year to put on, as members dress up in costume and the lights are shut off on Big Eli. She says it’s a fun time and the special event is always well attended.

Hayes says this year’s schedule has a couple of new additions. Food from Mel’s Snack Shack & Concessions will be available on most of the Sundays. The shack will have many of your carnival concession favorites.

Hayes says the other new addition this year are Sensory Days on the third Sunday of each month during the Big Eli schedule. She says these special days are dedicated towards children and families who have family members who have sensory concerns. On these Sundays from 3-4PM, there will be no music playing and additional time will be provided for individuals who want to ride and get off of Big Eli. Hayes its a way for the wheel events to include more members of the community.

Hayes says that Big Eli is also available for private parties and corporate events. She says that the wheel has been a part of several birthday parties and even a surprise engagement. The rental fee for non-profit organizations and churches is $100 per 2-hour rental. For-profit entities and individuals the cost is $200 per 2-hour rental or $125 per one-hour rental.

To rent the wheel or inquire about becoming a sponsor for next year’s season, call Gina Hayes at 618-946-3773.