The Coleman Brothers Carnival completed its 94th year this past Sunday, finishing its two weeks in Middletown with sunny, 70-degree weather in stark contrast to the cold rain—and flood warnings—it brought last weekend. Since 1916, the carnival has made its way to Middletown every spring, and with it, as local legend goes, comes “The Coleman Brothers Curse”—clouds, rain, and even, in 2007, snow.
Newspaper articles as far back as the ’50s document the nasty weather the carnival carried with it.
“Local prognosticators use the Coleman Bros. Carnival as their guide to predict rain for late April,” a 1952 article in the Bridgeport Sunday Herald reported. “Seems every season, just as the last tent peg is driven, the rains come.”
A Hartford Courant article in 1964 read, “It has been a local axiom the opening of the Coleman carnival means rain, but Dick Coleman [carnival owner] denies the charge.”
In 1968, the Courant reported that Dick Coleman had correctly predicted rain on the opening day of his carnival for 53 years. In 1970, according to Courant archives, rain not only greeted the opening of the carnival, but it also forced many carnival events to close.
In 1978, according to New London’s The Day, rain created so much mud that owner Robert Coleman and his employees had difficulty setting up the carnival.
“It’s a great challenge to tear down and set up in the rain,” he said. “I was born and raised in this. My dad founded this. My brother and I went into it, and now my two sons are involved.”
As the carnival departs Middletown to continue its season by traveling along the East Coast, the week ahead looks sunny and gorgeous, with highs up to 80 degrees.