Parents, students and teachers spent hours getting ready. And when 6 p.m. came around, everything was ready for the St. Andrew School Festival to roll on Thursday.
Even before the rides went into motion and the entertainment started, the busiest place was the booth where kids got their ride wristbands, guaranteeing them unlimited rides for the weekend.
Principal David Perry said for the kids, it was almost like Christmas. In fact, it has become a tradition for St. Andrew students to get ride bracelets for Christmas.
Perry said he hoped those bracelets would be used well during a big first night, even with the cold weather.
"We're hoping a lot of families come because it's the first night and all the kids are so excited. We're hoping the cold doesn't keep them away, but the weatherman said we're expecting sunshine all weekend," Perry said.
As the sun fell, it took no time for the kids to start filling up the rides as the blinking lights flashed in the darkening skies.
Parents, who are required to work at least 10 hours during the four-day festival, were busy prepping the food booths and taste-testing the items to make sure things were at their best.
For Patty Magnant, who has an eighth-grade daughter, it was a labor of love. She worked the fry aisle, giving away a few samples of the chili-cheese fries for approval.
"This is great for the community and we look forward to this. We've been working on this since school started," Magnant said. "I love that it's not only us, but Bishop Verot is here to help. It's a whole community and people love it."
On the main stage, the Bishop Verot High School Drumline & Jazz Band did a soundcheck ahead of their performance, while some of Cape Coral's most beautiful women and girls got ready for the Miss Cape Coral pageant to be held later that evening.
"We've got about 20 acts coming on stage this weekend, and we're lucky because they've all been here with us over the past 20 years," said Laura Holzhauer, entertainment chairperson. "We're going to have all the dance troupes and the Hot Flashz and Calendar Girlz. We're really excited."
For the children, it was a chance to get together with friends. Cosette Dunkle, whose mom was running the raffle, hung out with her friend, Sophia Shahriari, ride wristband ready for action.
"We're expecting a lot of fun. This is awesome. we do it every year. I'm helping my mom, but other than that, I'm out enjoying the rides," Dunkle said.
"I'm going to ride on 'Speed;' it's what my friends are looking forward to," Shahriari said. "My dad works at the fry booth and I've been doing a lot of sampling. It's been delicious."
For Megan Kelly and her friend, Erin Dent, both seniors, it was a last chance to enjoy this tradition.
"We want to have fun because we come every year and it's the last time we get to enjoy being together before we graduate," Kelly said.