A less frightening Halloween in Marysville

MARYSVILLE — While many Halloween-themed festivities try to give folks some small scares, the organizers of one such event in Marysville hoped to make their place seem less frightening to visitors of all ages.

The Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home in Marysville hosted its first Halloween-themed “Harvest Party” Oct. 23, complete with free food, free pumpkins, a petting zoo and a horse-drawn covered wagon ride around the block.

“The last couple of years, we’ve done our ‘Trunk-or-Treat,’ but this year, we wanted to do something a little different,” said Preston Flanary, general manager of the Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home, as Marysville Police Officer Derek Carlile showed off his patron car to youngsters and their families. “I want to do this every year. With all the corn mazes and pumpkin patches that are out there, local families still need more events that they can walk to, rather than drive to.”

Foster Farms donated the miniature pumpkins that were given away, along with the cornstalks and bales of straw that served to decorate the funeral home’s front parking lot facing State Avenue.

“I like the animals,” said Kalani Holland, 8, as he petted a miniature horse from Debbie Dolittle’s petting zoo. “They’re nice and they don’t bite.”

Tulalip Tribal members Doug and Benita Rosen brought their grandson, Marcelis Moses, to paint his free pumpkin, which then sat in front of the funeral home’s fireplace for their paint to dry, along with a dozen other child-painted mini-pumpkins.

“It teaches him that you can come here for fun times as well as sad times,” Benita Rosen said, before asking her grandson, “What’s your favorite part of being here today?”

“Purple,” Marcelis Moses said, as he concentrated on applying a thick coat of purple paint to one side of his pumpkin.

Tatiana Millan, 11, and Reagan Forrest, 5, departed from traditional jack-o’-lantern decoration style by treating their pumpkins as canvases for Halloween-appropriate scenes. While Millan painted ghosts and a haunted house on her pumpkin, Forrest painted spooky trees and skeletons on his own pumpkin. Like Moses, Forrest expressed fondness for the wagon rides provided by Gala Carriage.

“The ride was enjoyable, although I preferred the petting zoo,” said Michael Forrest, Reagan’s father, who moved to the are with his family last November. “It’s really amazing that these people are willing to do this. It breaks down the barriers of fear around funeral homes. I’ve served long enough in the Navy to attend my share of funerals, and I want my son to see that they can turn sad moments into joyful ones.”

The Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home received more than 150 visitors during the Harvest Party, and served them more than 80 hot dogs, along with uncounted bowls of chili and servings of cotton candy. As the day went on, more and more attendees showed up either as a result of word-of-mouth or else simply spotting the Harvest Party decorations while driving past on State Avenue.

“My younger sister was in town to visit her boyfriend today and noticed that this was going on,” said Daveen Ancheta, who supervised daughter Harmony, 5, and son Korbin, 2, as they spruced up their pumpkins. “We live just two blocks down the street. It’s been a blast ever since we got here. Korbin’s favorite thing was the bouncy house. He thinks he’s invincible in there,” she laughed.

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