By Heather Fabritze
Local families, organizations, businesses, and school bands paraded down High Street on the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 28, tossing out candy to children on the curb and celebrating the Halloween season.
The Chestertown Lions Club reprised their annual role as the primary organizer behind the event. They directed the parade route with the assistance of the Chestertown Police Department, cataloged costume contest submissions, and solidified event logistics.
According to Lions Club At-Large Director Larry Lyons, their organization has sponsored the parade for over half a century.
The Club also awarded certificates and cash prizes to best costume winners across several age groups. The judges’ stand, which was made up of local members of the community and Washington College students, graded contestants on a one to 10 rubric scale in multiple categories, including cuteness, scariness, effort, and quality.
Student Government Association Secretary of Service and Community Relations sophomore Brooke Thomas served as one of the parade’s judges for the pre-elementary group. Like WC judges in the other categories, she was paired with a member of the Chestertown community.
Thomas and her partner awarded the top three prizes to a shark, a pirate, and a witch, respectively. She said that the young boy who wore the shark costume won first because he was a “fan favorite.”
She also enjoyed being able to bond with her partner over such a wholesome mission.
“I would recommend anyone to come out to these community events,” Thomas said. “There’s so much fun and you can meet so many amazing people.”
In the elementary school category, a homemade space queen costume took first place, and a saxophone-playing hot dog won the top prize for middle school participants.
Department Chair and Associate Professor of Education Dr. Sara Clarke-De Reza joined the adult/high school contest and placed in second. She said that she chose to dress up as a “different kind of scientist” than usual – a paleontologist.
“I love this,” Dr. Clarke-De Reza said. “I think it’s such a feel good opportunity to bring people of all kinds and all ages together in Chestertown and I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
The “Thrill of the Rollercoaster,” a group dressed up as a coaster cart, mimicked the screams and motion of an actual amusement ride when they presented themselves. This extra attention to detail earned them first in the group category.
Sophomore Zoe Brookbank led the costume portion of the parade with an SGA banner to promote the College. They did so dressed up as Captain Hook, with a hat, mustache, jacket, and sword.
“I came out of today feeling a little exhausted but also very filled with love for Chestertown,” Brookbank said.
Any member of the WC community who was interested in walking in or volunteering at the parade could contact Thomas. Quite a few students, including senators in Thomas’ Service Committee, headed downtown to help with controlling traffic and boosting crowd morale.
Junior Ziggy Angelos set up a table by the judges’ stand to paint the faces of kids in attendance. According to Angelos, the most popular designs were butterflies, cats, and skeletons, although there were a few more creative options they were able to attempt.
“All the kids loved it and it was like I was making their dreams come alive,” Angelos said. “Their imaginations came to life with what they wanted to be. One kid wanted to be a monkey witch and I gave her a monkey witch. She loved it.”
Junior Jack Riveros also volunteered to keep the kids’ spirits up during the parade. He dressed up as the lion mascot for the Lions Club, handing out candy, taking photos with community members, and dancing to Halloween music.
“It was great to see the smiles on kids’ faces going around, making them happy,” Riveros said. “I didn’t know that there were that many kids here, honestly, in the Chestertown area. It was really great to engage with them.”
While he felt that turnout from members of the College was good, he thinks that there’s ways to improve student involvement next year. Thomas is a potential resource for those interested, as well as keeping up with the Lions Club and other organizations’ schedule of town events.
The parade, like past years, will return again next October.
Photo by Heather Fabritze
Photo Caption: The Chestertown Halloween Parade took place on High Street with residents gathering from all over.