Arlington celebrates Hometown Halloween

ARLINGTON — With Halloween falling on a Sunday this year, the Arlington community opted to offer more of its seasonal events on “Halloween Eve” Oct. 30, as the city’s downtown came alive — or perhaps “undead” — with ghosts and ghouls of all ages.

Arlington Hardware’s annual pumpkin-carving contest drew 60 entries, well off from their record of more than 100 pumpkins, but only four down from last year’s contest.

“We had more adults this year and their entries were fantastic,” said Kristi Cook, who credited Karen Ricketts with the lion’s share of organizing the event. “One of the most commended upon entries was from a boy named Jason Turransky, who gave his pumpkin a brain he’d carved out of watermelon.”

Eric Weaver, 13, won not only the bike drawing, but also a “Judges Choice” award for his multi-pumpkin entry of Pac-Man gobbling power pellets and a ghost. Mary Hopkins, 7, was a first-time entrant who won a “Best Painted” award for her princess pumpkin.

“It took a couple of hours,” Hopkins said. “You should just have fun and do your best.”

In spite of a steady drizzle throughout the day, the “Trunk-or-Treat” in the City Hall parking lot and the businesses along Olympic Avenue saw their first trick-or-treaters at 11 a.m., an hour before they were scheduled to start handing out candy.

“We’ve already served at least 100 people,” said Julie Morse, who was wearing an actual high school cheerleader’s outfit to greet trick-or-treaters at the door of Favorite Pastime. “We’ll easily top 500-plus today.”

Perhaps due to the low sunlight, Rod Donaldson and his grandson Devin had no problem roaming the streets openly as matching Dracula vampires.

“This is just a great, safe place to bring kids,” Rod Donaldson said through his fangs.

Leah Cushman’s gothic costume included a hollowed-out disembodied head as an accessory, which she filled with Halloween candy from the merchants.

“I got it from Value Village,” the 9-year-old said of the styrofoam head. “It took about an hour or two to decorate.”

At the Legion Park costume contest sponsored by the Arlington Arts Council, the many winners included Henry Bravomejia nabbing third place in the ages 8-11 category for his time-intensive robot costume, and adult Nova Heaton scoring first place in the 12 and up category for her pirate costume.

“I got old motherboards and VCR parts from the dollar store and the Goodwill,” said Henry’s dad, Joe Bravomejia. “From there, we broke out the spray paint and used a glue-gun.”

“This didn’t take as long as it looks,” laughed Heaton. “I got the parts from Jo-Ann Fabrics and the directions for how to make it from online.”

The pumpkin roll down the First Street hill drew an estimated 65 participants, according to event organizer Christina White of the Lifeway Foursquare Church. White credited Foster Farms with donating all the pumpkins, and the church itself with buying all the prizes.

When 10-year-old Abigail Palmer’s pumpkin failed to land in any of the collection barrels at the bottom of the hill, in part because it was so huge that the volunteers holding those barrels were forced to dodge out of its way, she wasn’t deterred.

“I’ll just try again,” Palmer said, as she rolled the pumpkin slowly back up the hill.

Jeannie Lish of the Arlington United Church estimated that their “Space Lab” funhouse had seen more than 150 visitors, and served as many cups of hot chocolate. That same afternoon, the staff of the Olympic Place retirement community invited the surrounding community to their annual “Monster Mash,” albeit with a few twists from last year.

“The pumpkin painting and Frankenstein pets were new this year,” said Christina Kitchen of Olympic Place. “Kids got to cut up stuffed animals and sew them back together to make monsters, like Frankenstein. It’s been fabulous.”

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