The Rescue Hose Co. is selling the Special Events Center and property at 407 S. Washington St., bringing an end to the annual fireman's carnival that dates back to block parties held decades ago around the old fire station.

The move makes good business sense, but was difficult nonetheless, according to Cheryl Mowen, fire company president, and Tim Myers, trustee.

The emotional aspects pulled at their heart strings amid lots of good memories made at the annual carnival marked by camaraderie, great entertainment and excellent food.

"It was always a job well-done. We will miss it just like the community will," Mowen said.

The work involved in the carnival vs. the amount of money generated, increasing demands on diminishing numbers of volunteers and the lease of the building with pending sale to Denise and Paul Hutchison of Blue Heron Events and From Scratch Catering, were factors in the decision, which received almost unanimous approval from fire company members.

The Rescue Hose Co. purchased the property in 1976 and added the building in 1982. Due to declines in bingo revenues and the availability of other rental venues for events like wedding receptions, the Rescue Hose Co., was losing money on the property in recent years until Blue Heron's lease in 2014.

Mowen and Myers call Denise Hutchison an excellent tenant who has put up with the carnival's annual disruption. Each year, Blue Heron's business was put on hold and its contents packed up and moved out for weeks before the carnival so the Rescue Hose Co. could move in kitchen and bingo equipment. After the carnival, the building needed to be professionally cleaned before Blue Heron could move back in.

Net proceeds from the carnival were about 4 percent of the fire company's annual budget of at least $1 million (more if there is an equipment purchase).

The work involved was a strain on volunteers — who spent weeks getting ready, then working at the carnival and finally cleaning up.

"Like other organizations, our organization faces the challenge of meeting the growing expectations of a modern world. To do this, members spend countless hours in training, answering emergency calls, fundraising and performing the daily administration and other business," according to Mowen and Myers. "Time — in many cases — spent away from their families. To allow them to focus on activities that support our mission, we constantly consider ways to maximize their availability. Activities requiring a large investment of time with a relatively small return are a strain to our department and its members."

"Do you want someone on the ambulance when your mother or father is sick or someone working the dime pitch?" Myers asked, noting the massive increase in the number of fire and ambulance calls over the years.

He admitted the carnival, too, involved a lot of praying ... praying the weather would be good and the fire company didn't get a call during set up, praying it didn't rain, praying it wasn't too hot.

From experience, he knows if it rained at dinnertime, the carnival was mainly over for the night and the food would be wasted.

Mowen and Myers explained attempts were made to enlist help to make it a community carnival, but that did not work out once the amount of time involved and upfront costs were discussed.

A closing date on the sale to the Hutchisons for $360,000 has not been set pending some zoning issues. The Rescue Hose Co. will continue to own the property that houses the office of Magisterial District Judge Duane Cunningham.