M’ville offers safe scares for families this Halloween

 - KIRK BOXLEITNER The Marysville Globe
— image credit: KIRK BOXLEITNER The Marysville Globe

MARYSVILLE — Marysville residents of all ages had chances to celebrate the “spooky season” in safe ways, as the city, its businesses and senior communities all hosted Halloween events.

Jennings Park was once again the site of the annual Halloween egg hunt Oct. 30, which city of Marysville Athletic Coordinator Dave Hall came up with three years ago for a simple reason.

“It was easy to get orange and black plastic eggs,” Hall laughed, as he estimated that approximately 2,000 plastic eggs were laid out for 55 children aged 11-15.

Hall hopes that more teens hear about the egg hunt in years to come. Those who did attend appeared pleased by their haul, most notably 13-year-old Chris Meadows, who walked away with an Xbox during the raffle at the start of the egg hunt. Meadows looks forward to returning to Jennings Park next year, but in the meantime, he’ll be inviting his friends over to play on his Xbox.

Mike Foster happened upon the egg hunt by accident, since he and his sons, Garrett and Landon, just happened to be in Jennings Park anyway. Like fellow father Dan Buell, who escorted daughters Whitney and Nicole on their egg hunt, he loved the event.

“It’s very festive, especially with the screams,” Buell laughed, as adults in costumes jumped out of the shadows to startle egg hunters.

“It seemed like it would be boring at first, but it was fun once I got used to it,” said 12-year-old Rachel Newton, a first-time egg hunter, as she worked to open her eggs.

“It didn’t take you long to get used to it,” teased Rachel’s father Richard.

While some egg hunters, like 12-year-old Evan Workman, smashed their eggs on tabletops to get at the candy inside, others, like 14-year-old Sam Ward, popped them open with their mouths.

Kit Russell joined 14-year-old son Paul in his second year of egg hunting, and 13-year-old daughter Anna on her first. While both teens cited the candy itself as a big reason for attending, their mom also suspected that they enjoyed the opportunity to “play dress-up.”

The senior residents of Grandview Village had already staged their costume party during the weekend before Halloween, but Oct. 31 brought its own seasonally appropriate activities, including pumpkin decorating and a magic show by Brady Ramsey.

Margaret Vanderlip preferred a minimalist style, simply adorning her pumpkin with her own name, while Virgie O’Connor gave her pumpkin a goofy face, but Nancy Lefstad turned her pumpkin into a canvas for Halloween-themed characters ranging from bats to black cats. All three agreed that candy was one of their favorite parts of Halloween, as well as the ways in which the holiday excited their imaginations.

Merle Sweum’s creative expression couldn’t be contained by her pumpkin, so she drew on the paper tablecloth as well.

“That’s all of us, and our friendship,” Sweum told her daughter, Marlene Dahlgren, and the other women around the table. “I drew us outside, because I couldn’t draw the table.”

Barbara Lester, program director for Grandview Village, recalled how many of the residents’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren attended the costume party, and laughed as she remembered one little boy who had dressed up as the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four and said, “I’m on fire.”

“It’s multigenerational entertainment,” Lester said. “It allows everyone to step outside their boxes, eat lots of candy, and feel like kids at heart.”

For more than a dozen years, Third Street in downtown Marysville has been a popular destination for trick-or-treaters, and Oct. 31 of this year was no exception. Merchants like BookWorks owner Mary Burns dispensed handfuls of candy to a steady stream of Jedi Knights, Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles, while others, like Darlene Scott of Carr’s Hardware and Mary Kirkland of Hilton’s Pharmacy, went one step further by greeting the trick-or-treaters in costumes of their own.

“This used to go three or four blocks, but we limited it to one, to make it safer and a little less scary for children and their parents,” said Kirkland, dressed as a leprechaun. “They’re always so sweet and gracious when they come in. It’s just good hometown fun.”

For Chris Schroff and his daughters, Roancy and Caitlin, this was their second year of trick-or-treating on Third Street. While Roancy and Caitlin agreed that the “food” was the best part of it, Chris appreciated the safe environment and the chance to reacquaint himself with downtown merchants.

“I just love the little ones,” said Scott, after she’d handed out candy to junior Batman Mason Doong. “They have such wonderful personalities. They’re all so into it, and they feel so important, even if some of them are shy. At that age, it’s really fun, although I suspect the parents have more fun than the kids.”

Sarah Olsen was once a “head pumpkin” for Third Street’s Halloween celebrations, helping guide children through their trick-or-treating, but this year, she and her husband Billy were escorting their own trick-or-treaters, son Dominic and daughter Kaytlyn. While Dominic dressed as Jango Fett from the Star Wars prequels, 10-day-old Kaytlyn was bundled up as a tiny little ladybug.

“It’s just a safe, family-friendly atmosphere,” Sarah said.

Adam and Vanessa Nekuda heard such good things about Third Street’s Halloween that they brought daughter Kyla, in fins and red hair as the Little Mermaid, all the way from their home in Camano Island.

In spite of all their earlier opportunities to bag some candy, plenty of trick-or-treaters still showed up at the Marysville Care Center on the evening of Oct. 31 to score sweets. Care Center Administrator Stephanie Bonanzino greeted families at the door, dressed as a Greek goddess, while Director of Nurses Sue Bankoff, who appeared imposing but friendly as the Wicked Queen from Snow White, directed children and parents down the hallways toward senior residents.

“The residents love it,” said Bonanzino, who estimated that the Care Center sees roughly 300 trick-or-treaters every year. “They look forward to it all week. They prepare early, by carving pumpkins, stocking up on candy and dressing up.”

Wayne Seay and Sam Trotto sat at their doors disguised by fake mustaches and beards. Trotto, this year’s Strawberry Festival King, swore that he never tries to scare the kids, while Seay mischievously admitted that he occasionally likes to make them scream as they go by.

Katie Hovik has been greeting trick-or-treaters at her door since before she turned 100, nearly three years ago. Shirley Richardson, Hovik’s daughter, and her other family members enjoy visiting Hovik, who always dresses as a witch, and they’re always delighted by the imaginative costumes of the other residents.

Roommates Ruth Linson and Reba Jo Lepkowski were among those who were particularly noticeable this year. While Linson wore a thrift store witch costume, she made an Indian princess costume for Lepkowski.

“I’ve gotten all sorts of compliments on it,” Lepkowski said.

As kids did cakewalks and squealed with amused shock at “The Hand” that reached out of the wall to grab them, Ossha Williams was happy to take her daughters, Daneya and Trinity, trick-or-treating through the Care Center.

“They came here with their aunt last time, so this is my first time coming here with them,” Williams said. “They’re so young that my biggest concerns are that they’re not too frightened, and that they’re in a safe environment. I love this. It’s so sweet and the residents are all so cute.”

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