Spooktoberfest draws crowd
Jacob Abbinante walks past a giant pumpkin at the Pioneer Park Spooktoberfest on Saturday. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 24, 2012 1:16AM
NILES — Bart Simpson, Darth Vader, a butterfly, and a pumpkin were just a few of the attendees Saturday at the second annual Spooktoberfest at Pioneer Park.
Anne Gentile of Chicago brought her kids back this year after they enjoyed themselves last year. This year they were dressed as a witch, police officer and Bart Simpson.
“It’s a nice event,” said Gentile, who said her kids had a great time playing games, mini golf and going on a hay ride.
Gentile said that her young son enjoys dressing up as a police officer “almost every day,” and it was no different for Halloween.
Every year Gentile enjoys going trick-or-treating with her family and putting up Halloween decorations around the house.
Karolina Zwierczyk, of Park Ridge, said she was happy and surprised that her 15-month-old daughter, Lilly, who was disguised as a pumpkin, won the costume contest for the girls. Her son, who attends preschool at Niles Park District, was a fireman for the day.
The family-friendly event included games such as Bozo buckets using Jack O’Lanterns, a bean-bag toss, mini golf for $1, a hot dog lunch for a $1 and free hay rides for the whole family.
“The parents love it,” said Julene Valle, the facility manager at Pioneer Park. “They get so into it.”
Valle said that last year the parents and kids both had a great time, so they wanted to expand the event this year.
“It’s all about the kids,” said Valle, estimating that about 80 kids attended this year’s Spooktoberfest.
The event included a Halloween parade and a costume contest that even featured some pets dressed in costume.
Barbara Gomez of Chicago brought her two dogs, dressed in costume, to the event and they both won prizes in the pet costume contest. One of Gomez’s dogs was dressed in a pumpkin outfit, while the other sported a costume with jail bars that said “Bad Dog.” Gomez said she enjoys pumpkin carving and decorating her house for Halloween as well.
This year’s most popular costume, according to a spokeswoman for the corporate office of Party City, are superhero costumes since movies such as “Spider-Man” and the “Avengers” were big hits this year. She said the superhero costumes are popular among boys, women and men.
The spokeswoman said that mix-and-match outfits are also popular, especially among adult women.
These mix-and-match pieces allow people to accessorize a black dress they already have, without spending too much money on a Halloween costume.
An alternative to trick-or-treating on the streets, Golf Mill Shopping Center is once again offering trick- or-treating at the mall from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 31.
“It’s been consistently popular,” said Golf Mill Marketing Director Monika Kalicki. “We get a lot of kids and families here.”
“Parents have been very supportive of the program, because weather is not an issue and it’s a very safe environment,” she added.
For those who haven’t found the perfect costume yet, Kalicki said that Toyland in the Sears wing offers a large selection of costumes. She said that recently opened Ross Dress for Less and Target are also places to check out Halloween costumes at Golf Mill.
The Niles Park District will also be hosting some fun family-oriented Halloween events in the days leading up to the holiday:
• Monsters Ball, Oct. 26 at Oasis Fun Center, 7877 Milwaukee Ave., from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy dinner, a spooky firelight story, games and dancing to music. Registration is required.
• Halloween Parade and Party, Oct. 27. The parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. and the party is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The parade will start at Oak Park (Main Street and Ottawa) and proceed to Grennan Heights where there will be games, treats and spooky surprises. Registration is required.
• Iceland Scary Skate, Oct. 28 from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. There will be games on the ice, treats, a costume contest, prizes and more.