The treats vastly outnumbered the tricks in downtown Fremont on Thursday afternoon as ghouls, goblins, and plenty of comic book heroes gathered for Halloween Hysteria.
Downtown businesses transformed into haunted houses, and pounds of candy were given away as thousands gathered for the annual event, which is presented by MainStreet of Fremont.
“It’s a great atmosphere and a super safe environment,” Shannon Mullen, executive director of MainStreet, said in an interview with the Tribune prior to the event. “We have the Dodge County REACT group down here helping folks cross the street and to make sure the streets are safe. It’s a really great opportunity for people to have a very safe trick-or-treating environment, and a little earlier setting than the normal setting.”
Parents and children flooded Main Street as businesses opened their doors for Halloween Hysteria, which has become a tradition for area residents and business owners.
First National Bank Fremont at Sixth and Main streets once again transformed the bank into the Haunted Bank for Kids, and Don Peterson & Associates Real Estate, at 100 E Sixth Street, offices was far spookier than usual as it became a haunted house for all to enjoy. Along with showing off their costumes as they trick-or-treated, kids and families could also earn recognition for their unique outfits at the third annual Fremont Creative Collective costume contest at Milady Coffeehouse inside The May Brothers Building at Sixth Street and Park Avenue. The costume contest began at 5:30 p.m. and hundreds of kids and families streamed through the building, showing off their costumes to a panel of six judges.
The contest featured a variety of children’s categories with: infant to 1 year, 2-3 years, 4-6 years and 7-10 years old age groups all getting a chance to walk across the stage. There was also the addition of the family category at this year’s contest.
“It’s a really great opportunity for families to take advantage of the opportunity of dressing up together,” Mullen said. “I’m really excited about that.”
One family that took advantage was local resident Erika Shelton who dressed up as “The Cat in the Hat” along with her two children Danika and Charleigh dressed as “Thing One and Thing Two”. The costume contest also had a new feature with all judging being done electronically.
“We just get everyone entered into the system and then all of that person’s information goes to the judges laptop screens before they go up on stage,” Glen Ellis, Chairman of the Board for Fremont Creative Collective, said. “Then the judges can all vote on their laptops, and the winners are announced electronically as well. It really kind of streamlines the process.”
Another new addition to this year’s Halloween Hysteria was Lifegate Church’s Tent or Treat at the pop-up park located at Fifth Street and Park Avenue.
The greenspace was filled with a variety of games and plenty of treats for kids to enjoy all housed under canopy tents.
“We have Trunk or Treat events at all of our places of worship and we wanted to be a part of Halloween Hysteria so we thought that Tent or Treat was an good name change,” Robert Wilson, director at Lifegate Church, said. “We are in the process of opening our first church here in Fremont and just wanted to get out into the community and provide some fun for the kids.”
With the pop-up park coming down at the end of October, the event was a great way to use the space at least one more time before it returns to just being a parking lot.
“We wanted to make sure that somebody took advantage of that space, too,” Mullen said. “It’s an opportunity for maybe people who aren’t on the main drag or feel like maybe their businesses aren’t seen (to set up in the green space). We get a lot of requests from different churches and other groups to come and participate, so we’ve allowed those folks to come and participate with us.”
Susan Larson will tell you that homelessness is a lot scarier than a Zombie Prom.
So the volunteer from Ames hopes area residents will don some Zombie-like attire — or some other costume — and attend a party designed to help raise funds for Uniquely Yours Stability Support.
UYSS is a Fremont-based organization that works to prevent homelessness or help get people out of that situation.
And this month, UYSS is hosting a fundraising Zombie Prom — complete with music, food and a costume contest.
Area residents age 18 and older are invited to the party set from 8 p.m. to midnight Oct. 27, at The Gathering, 750 N. Clarmar Ave., in Fremont.
Advance tickets are $7 each or $35 for a book of five and are available at UYSS, 240 N. Main St., Fremont. At the door of The Gathering, tickets will cost $10 for individuals or $15 for a pair or $8 for a student with an ID.
Those who attend can have their faces painted by professional artists between 7-8 p.m. Cost is $3 per face. A deejay will play Halloween-theme music for dancing. Attendees can munch on tombstone brownies, zombie-brain cupcakes and severed finger hot dogs in buns with all the fixings. There will be a cash bar.
A Zombie King and Queen will be crowned. Contest winners will be chosen in the scariest, cutest and best costume categories.
“It’s a whole bunch of fun,” Larson said.
What’s more, all proceeds raised will benefit UYSS, which helps people in various ways.
“There are a lot of great agencies that help folks, but everybody has limitations on what they can do,” said Larson, a UYSS board member. “Uniquely Yours attempts to bridge a gap that otherwise may be unmet.”
The agency has provided gasoline vouchers or tires to help people get to job interviews. It can provide an outfit the person can wear to the interview.
If people have proof of getting the job, they can get up to four more outfits so they have five days of work clothes.
Larson also cites a situation of someone being hired for a job, but needing a pair of steel-toed boots. UYSS can work with a service partner to get those boots so the person can take the job, go to work, earn an income and make a difference.
The organization also offers parenting, budgeting and job interview classes. There are one-hour workshops in nutrition and basic computer skills. It has computers so people can get online and apply for jobs and a community closet with adult and children’s clothing and blankets. It has reading glasses.
It will have a coat drive starting in November.
In the meantime, Larson hopes area residents will attend the Zombie Prom.
“Have your Halloween party at our place,” she said. “We have the decorations. Just bring your friends. We have security at the door. It’s safe. It’s fun.”
More information on UYSS is available at 402-727-UYSS (8977).
It’s never too early for people to start getting involved in their communities. Involvement can include something as simple as helping an elderly neighbor collect his or her newspaper on a daily basis; or something more extensive like putting in five to 10 hours of volunteer work at an organization.
Whatever the service may be, it all matters and helps to make a community a better place to live. On Saturday, Oct. 28, dozens of Fremont High School Key Club members are putting their efforts toward gathering money and non-perishable food items for the Fremont Salvation Army’s food pantry.
During the winter months, the Salvation Army helps dozens of families in a variety of ways; but a big source of giving comes from its ability to distribute food from a fully-stocked food pantry.
On Oct. 28, approximately 30-40 of Key Club’s 70 members will congregate outside of Hy-Vee engaging with community members and gathering the valuable resources for the Salvation Army. A yellow school bus will then be filled with gathered non-perishables and cash and driven to the Salvation Army, said Ryan Olson, FHS Spanish instructor and third-year Key Club sponsor.
In 2016, 31 boxes of non-perishable food items and approximately $150 in cash was donated to the Salvation Army through the annual Stuff the Bus campaign, he said during a Thursday interview with the Tribune. The goal is to double that this year.
The campaign has been going on at least for six years, he said. The beauty of the event is that there’s never a lack of community members willing to donate a few items during the event, which lasts from 9 a.m. through noon. Often times, shoppers will even run back inside of Hy-Vee to pick up a few additional items before taking off.
“People in the community get to see that high school students are taking an active part with helping their community and a group like the Salvation Army,” Olson said. “It’s something the kids really like doing; and we really just provide the bodies and get kids out there who want to do good and who want to provide a service to help people.”
Every year, the Stuff the Bus campaign is organized by Key Clubs five elected officers. The club, Olson said, teaches students not only about philanthropy but also leadership.
“That’s one of the great parts of Key Club, that there is a leadership portion,” he said. “Really, our high school Key Club officers are the ones who organize the events; they make contact with people and do a lot of networking. They know how to get something done quickly and efficiently.”
Being able to make a difference in some people’s lives is gratifying for Olson and his Key Club students.
“There isn’t anybody out there who hasn’t been helped or benefitted by somebody else at one time or another,” he said. “And that’s really the meaning of volunteering, just giving back; because at some point you’ve gotten something in your life. So if we can help students to realize that in high school this early on before they graduate it’s great.”