Kids in for a treat

Last year, Niki Newkirk's grandsons, ages 4 and 5, attended the Ashland Children's Parade as Boba Fett and Anakin Skywalker. This year, the boys plan to go as a zombie pirate and Rapunzel, or perhaps Sleeping Beauty. It changes daily, Newkirk says.

Newkirk recalls taking her own daughter, who is now 27, to the parade as a child.

"My daughter was going when she was 6 through elementary school, and it was a great memory for her. She wants her children to have that memory," Newkirk says.

In recent years, the parade has lost much of its sweetness as "big kids" took the limelight.

"Last year, the children, who are knee-high, couldn't see the daylight," Newkirk says. "People love to dress up here, and it's stunning and it's fun to watch them."

In the hopes of preserving this fun tradition for kids in the community, the Ashland Chamber of Commerce will host its 15th annual Children's Halloween Celebration from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, in downtown Ashland. Last year, more than 6,000 people came out to participate in the event. The celebration is an opportunity for little ones to show off their costumes, go trick-or-treating and participate in fun, fall activities.

The parade begins at 3 p.m. in front of the Ashland library and will make its way down East Main Street to the Plaza. Children and families are asked to line up on Third Street, between East Main and Lithia Way, before the parade. Adults without children may assemble on Siskiyou Boulevard in front of the library. Ashland Brazilian drumming band Samba Like It Hot will lead the parade followed by children and families and, finally, adults bringing up the rear.

"We're trying to set a really clear framework, so the little kids can see and not get lost in the tall folks," says Katharine Flanagan, sales and marketing director for the chamber.

From 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., businesses along East Main Street will be open for trick-or-treating. Participating businesses are designated by pumpkin decals on their windows.

On the Plaza, Renaissance Rose will host a costume contest with prizes donated by downtown merchants, and Samba Like It Hot will perform. Returning for the third year, a group of more than 50 dancers from Ashland Danceworks will present two choreographed performances of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" on Pioneer Street. Outside the Ashland Chamber of Commerce on East Main and Pioneers streets, there will be face-painting and fall treats, including popcorn and apple cider. New this year, Tree House Books will sponsor a story time. Persons costumed as book characters Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog will be available for photographs with children.

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