A steady chilly drizzle couldn’t keep thousands of costumed attendees away from the annual Children’s Halloween Parade Wednesday in Ashland. East Main Street was nearly impassable as roughly 6,000 attendees waltzed, limped and trick-or-treated their way to the Ashland Plaza.
Tish McFadden and Brian Freeman began the evening with a music performance and the Ashland Middle School Jazz Band entertained just down the street as mobs of people gathered near the Ashland Public Library to queue up.
A police officer sporting a pig’s snout astride a motorcycle led the organized chaos, followed by a unicycler, Samba Like It’s Hot and hundreds of kids and community members slathered in face paint and draped in costume finery.
Third-grader Kenna Terpsma dressed as a Slytherin, a Hogwarts student in the Harry Potter books, said some costumes were scary — but not too scary.
“The costumes are really cool, but my favorite part is getting the candy,” Kenna said.
A black kitty named Kaia standing sheepishly beside Kenna said she really liked petting all the dogs dressed in costumes but had to agree that getting candy was also her favorite part.
Many of the local businesses have been handing out candy to the kids for many years. This event is more than 30 years old, according to Ashland Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator Kelsey Frantz.
Co-owner of Martolli’s pizza Mark Hedford sat outside the pizza shop in a hippie get-up, hugging a giant bowl of candy.
“It’s all for the kids,” Hedford said between trick-or-treaters. “These kids are awesome. My favorite part of the parade is handing out the candy.”
Hedford said he’s been doing it for nine years.
“This is one of our busiest and most fun days of the year,” Hedford said.
As the parade came to a close, Ashland Danceworks performed the Thriller Dance near the Oregon Shakespeare Festival campus on Pioneer Street.
“Every year they do a new costume and a new dance,” Frantz said. “Not many people know that.”
Kindergartener Cora Anderson said her favorite part of the parade is watching the dance.
This year there was also face painting, a free photo booth and apple cider, ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum’s “spooky science” and an Ashlandia Witch Dance Party.
“We love seeing all of the different costumes,” Frantz said. “It’s such a great tradition, we’re thrilled to be putting this on every year and we couldn’t do it without our great partners.”