ARLINGTON — The Saturday before Halloween was once again jam-packed with festive events on Olympic Avenue and beyond, as Arlington celebrated its Hometown Halloween all day on Oct. 27.
The Arlington Hardware & Lumber pumpkin decorating contest drew 55 entries, including one pumpkin by Dawson Andrews with gourds attached to resemble a chicken, and another by Karen Wilson showing a jack-o’-lantern squatting in an outhouse chair over a pie with a sign reading, “How pumpkin pies are really made.”
“This year’s contest remained popular in spite of the rain,” said Karen Ricketts, a veteran of the Arlington Hardware & Lumber pumpkin decorating contest for its two decades and running. “The weather didn’t slow us down a bit. The merchants community has been hugely involved in all the Hometown Halloween activities this year.”
The Arlington High School Flight Choir staged two new events in conjunction with this year’s Hometown Halloween, raising funds for their spring break trip to Branson, Mo., with a “zombie breakfast” at Hubb’s Pizza that morning and reenacting “Thriller” at noon just outside of the Arlington City Hall building.
“It’s been a little wet, but we’re holding in there,” Brent McGee said just after noon, as he directed his “Fright Choir” of 22 student zombies. “We’ve probably raised about $6,000, but we need to raise $20,000.”
Although the Arlington City Hall parking lot did not host a “Trunk-or-Treat” this year, the merchants of Olympic Avenue donned their costumes to gather under their storefront overhangs with handfuls of candy for trick-or-treating families such as the Martins, who came as the “Pumpkin Family” this year, with daughter Olivia swaddled in a tiny pumpkin outfit, mom Micki in farmer’s overalls, and dad Chris wearing both overalls and an actual hollowed-out pumpkin over his head for a mask.
“I was lazy and didn’t want to do more than just cover my head,” said Chris Martin, who nonetheless stuffed his pumpkin mask with plastic bags and wore a shower cap in a futile effort to protect him from pumpkin innards. “Next year, I’m definitely going with styrofoam.”
The Pirates of Treasure Island returned to the Arlington City Hall parking lot to collect close to a pickup truck full of shoes for Arlington Kids’ Kloset, and to supplement the estimated 1,500 pounds of food donations that Arlington students had collected for the Arlington Community Food Bank that morning.
“Last year was a bit drier, but pirates can put up with the worst of weather for community service,” said Treasure Island Pirate “Capt. Handlbr,” in between posing for photos with children. “And the kids warm our hearts.”
This year’s pumpkin pie contest saw a slight downturn in participation, with only four entries, but third-place winner Jo Green made hers gluten-free, while Samantha Schuller made her own gluten-free and from pumpkins that she’d grown herself.
“They were all totally different and totally delicious,” said Robyn Bradley of Pepperjack Home, which provided prizes for the contest along with UrbanFarm Naturals.
Just outside of the Legion Park gazebo where the pumpkin pies were judged, the Pirates of Treasure Island judged the costumes of close to 100 kids and adults alike, although most entrants were well under 18 years of age. Connor Tilley’s third-place costume in the “15 & up” category was a Starbucks coffee cup, complete with real cinnamon from his pantry sprinkled into the cotton “foam,” while sisters Kathryn and Abby Stevenson won third in the 9-11 years category and first in the 3-5 years category as the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts, respectively.
“We did a lot of thrift store hunting for Kathryn’s costume, and I had to make the hat from scratch,” said Kim Stevenson, the girls’ mom. “At the last minute, we came up with a teapot for her candy bucket.”
While the “Great Pumpkin Roll” on the First Street hill drew at least 100 contestants, according to event coordinator Curtis White of the Lifeway Foursquare Church, the second-annual “Zombie Walk” saw its spirits dampened by the receding downpour just enough that Fogdog Gallery owner Claire Cundiff, who’s organized the “shamble” of made-up ghouls to raise funds for art supplies for middle and high school students, suggested that she might switch themes for next year.
“I’m wondering if a lot of folks aren’t already zombied out with the other stuff that’s going on in town,” said Cundiff, who hosted dramatic readings of Edgar Allan Poe stories by the Blue Stilly Players in her art gallery later that afternoon. “We raised $350 last year, and we’ll give whatever we can this year.”
Cheryl Kuehl won the $25 gift certificate to Fogdog Gallery as first prize for her CDC-suited zombie.