Close to 1,000 enjoy Caribou Halloween event

CARIBOU, Maine — Between 800 and 1,000 children and parents came out to get candy, play games, show off their costumes, venture through a haunted house, and learn Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance at the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center on Halloween.

Costumes were judged by a panel of four members of the VFW Auxiliary with accolades given for most original, prettiest, scariest, and best overall to four different age groups (pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade, second and third grade, and fourth and fifth grade) for a total of sixteen awards.

Auxiliary member Lisa Michaud said the organization decided to give out medals and awards this year, and said some of the more notable costumes she recalled from the past were a family dressed up as goldilocks and the three bears, Cinderella and her coach, and even some dinosaurs.

In order to pull off such a large event, several dozen volunteers need to work together and recreation officials begin planning for this event in the summer.

Caribou Marketing and Events Coordinator Christina Kane-Gibson said the department works closely with Caribou’s JMG (Jobs for Maine Graduates) program for the haunted house as part of an economics program in which the students come up with a business plan and a budget.

“We were a little behind the gun this year,” said Kane-Gibson, “but fortunately we were able to borrow some props from the Madawaska Rec Department. They do a stellar haunted house every four years, and this was an off year so they let us use some of their stuff.”

While the haunted house requires a great deal of planning and work, Kane-Gibson said she’s seen some kids “go through four times,” and despite not having much space, JMG students were successfully able to transform the basement floor of the facility into a frightening space, with the weight room taking on the appearance of a haunted prison and other areas themed after a haunted forest.

Upstairs activities in the gym were a bit more lighthearted, with a photo booth and Halloween-themed dance instruction from Cassandra Davenport.

Kane-Gibson said that while children learned a few dances, they eventually just wanted to dance “so she turned into a DJ and started playing music for them.”

“At one point I saw a little kid dressed as Batman holding hands with another older kid dressed as a skeleton and they were both just having a great time and dancing,” she said.

For next year’s event, she said “we know we need more candy,” as the supply was quickly depleted.

On Thursday morning, staff and volunteers were still cleaning up so they have no specific plans for next year’s event yet, however, Kane-Gibson said she looks forward to continuing the city’s long-running tradition of hosting an annual Halloween event.

“We love it, the kids love it, and we had a great turnout,” she said. “It’s a totally fun time for everybody.”

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