By NICOLE COOKE and NINA GARCIA (WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – Downtown Warrensburg was looking a little spooky Wednesday night as witches, superheroes, villains and monsters roamed the streets looking for a treat.
Downtown businesses got into the spirit of Halloween and handed out candy to area kids during the annual Downtown Trick-or-Treat.
Some business owners dressed up in costumes as well, such as Nolan Ellis, owner of Rock n’ Sports Entertainment, and his girlfriend, Debra Reyes, who dressed up as a bar of soap and a loofah to give out candy.
Ellis said that his favorite part is seeing the clever costumes.
“I really like seeing all the Marios, Links and Luigis,” Ellis said of the Nintendo character costumes. “I like the ones that have a link to my store, like comic book characters. I even saw an ‘Assassin’s Creed’ character. I might have given him a little extra candy, but don’t tell anyone.”
There was plenty to do downtown for those in attendance. Kids could try their luck at the “ghoulish treat walk,” which is similar to a traditional cakewalk. There was also a bounce house in front of the courthouse and a game to find a needle in a haystack – literally.
The downtown area was blocked off to cars from just in front of the railroad tracks to Gay Street, where Jaeger Tire was sponsoring the Great Pumpkin Race.
“We handed out candy last year, but we wanted to do something different,” said Debbie Jackson, wife of Dewayne Jackson, owner of Jaeger. “We wanted to have an activity for the kids instead.”
The Great Pumpkin Race was set up with tires lining the edges of the track. Halloween-themed trophies were awarded to the winners in each of the four age categories.
There were only a few participants, but the pumpkin cars were decorated with themes from spooky Halloween to Angry Birds.
While there were activities throughout downtown, by far the favorite event of the night was walking down the sidewalks and stopping at each participating business for a sweet treat. Kids left the event with their candy pails filled.
“She likes Toostie Pops,” said Shelly Schnake as she pulled out a brown one from her daughter Dani’s pumpkin pail.
“No!” Dani said. “I like the red ones best.”
Shelly was accompanied by her friend, Kay James, who said the decision to come downtown was for Dani.
“It’s safer to come down here,” James said. “Plus she gets more candy, which she likes. And we get to see all the great costumes.”
James and the Schnakes also enjoyed some entertainment Wednesday night. The UCM Dance Club treated the crowd to a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” complete with zombie and other Halloween costumes.
Dance club member Natalie Krahenbuhl said the group practices every Thursday for an hour and this particular dance took them three practices to learn.
As the music started and the dancers slowly walked to the center of the street from their positions in the crowd, those in attendance quickly noticed and formed a circle of flashing cameras and video cameras to capture the routine.
After the song was over, the group received a round of applause and some kids took a few pictures with the zombie dancers.
“We had a blast,” Krahenbuhl said. “It wasn’t too hard to learn and we all had a lot of fun doing it.”
Some of the parents even got into the spirit of the holiday. There was everything from a “Star Wars” family to a “Scooby Doo” family. Kids’ costumes ranged from superheroes and movie characters, to scary monsters and cute fairies. Some had store-bought costumes, but some families were a little more creative.
Sarah Hasek and her family were one of the creative ones. Her sons, George, David and August Dietz, were dressed up as Easy Mac, french fries and a Capri Sun, respectively.
“This year, I wanted them to dress up as a set,” Hasek said. “We couldn’t think of anything they all wanted to do, so we decided on food. They’re like a kid’s lunch.”
Hasek said their reasons for coming downtown were the same as most. It was so they boys could show off their costumes and see other costumes.
“And get candy,” David added.
Although the streets seemed a little less crowded than in past years, there was a big turnout for the event. As it neared 7 p.m., the streets began to clear and families headed home to trick-or-treat in their own neighborhoods.