The Halloween Costume Contest & Festival, sponsored by the New Lenox Chamber of Commerce, is a tradition in a community that enjoys the spirit of a harvest festival. It's planned from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Oster-Oakview Elementary School, 809 N. Cedar Road.
The Chamber is marking its 45th year as sponsor of the day for which the plans included a costume contest with prizes awarded for various age categories ranging from pre-school through 8th grade. A special category is set for adults and group costumes.
Of course the event has changed up a bit over the years, said Debbie Hypke, executive director of the New Lenox Chamber of Commerce. But oddly enough, the same kind of costumed characters that bobbed for apples in 1967 will likely stroll the grounds this year too.
Some characters just never grow up. There's bound to be a few little guys dressed as Batman or Spiderman. Star Trek's Mr. Spock remains popular as do the characters from the Fantastic 4, which were introduced on television in 1967 and years before that in Marvel Comics.
The idea of being a princess hasn't faded, and moms still love dressing toddlers up in stuffed triangular shaped orange and yellow garb that resembles a piece of candy corn.
The community has a certain expectation when it comes to the annual event. Hypke said the Chamber enjoys packing the day with a variety of activities and partnering with other community organizations and the schools. The New Lenox Lions Club is tasked with manning the make-shift pumpkin patch.
In the few hours before the pint-size cast of characters show up, the front lawn of Oster-Oakview Elementary School is magically transformed into a pumpkin patch that even Charlie Brown and Linus would proud of. There will be plenty of pumpkin carving along with treats in goody bag.
Hypke said the Chamber continues the program because its members appreciate it. "The one thing that the Chamber offers its members is an opportunity to give back to the community."
Some retail stores and restaurants are designed to accommodate parties and crowds, she said. But the Chamber is on-hand to help all its members, such as a local dentist or owner of a hair salon. Those businesses want a "chance to participate in an event. They want to give back to the community that supports them," said Hypke.
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