Ghosts and ghouls of every kind haunted downtown Wapakoneta for two hours Thursday, all part of a Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce Halloween Parade tradition that goes back more than 90 years.
Bad weather held off, as a heavy rain at approximately 4:30 p.m. came through the area and threatened to lessen attendance as it did in 2011, when cold, rainy and windy conditions thinned out attendance.
The weather held off and their was only a slight chill in the air as children enjoyed the the floats laden with clowns, zombies, witches, mummies, and just about every other costume that could be thought up.
Of course, some children had other motives. Eight-year-old Maya said she and her family had made the trip all the way from Angola, Ind.
Maya displayed her bag of candy, stuffed to the hilt with Tootsie Rolls and the like. For her, it was all about the candy.
“I like going after the candy,” Maya said, holding up her bag.
Halloween Parade Chair Josh Hines said 115 entries took part in the parade.
He said feedback from the event has been positive as approximately 7,500 people crowded the sidewalks along Auglaize Street from the Auglaize County Fairgrounds to Park Street to enjoy the parade.
“Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and they enjoyed all of the themed floats,” Hines said. “It was was good as it has ever been.”
Hines said the chamber likes to host the parade to help set the community apart.
“It is a community event that draws people from the entire region,” Hines said. “Compared to last year, we had a lot more people since the weather was cooperative.”
Attendees responded to all of the entries, with children paying special attention to several. Ronald McDonald dancing to 1950s and 1960s music excited all, and the Singsation Choir made periodic stops along the route to perform.
Young ghoulies in the New Vision Nursing entry performed Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance. The Wapakoneta High School Art Club stick creatures slapped high fives along the route. The Bob Evans float featured the walking dead and advertised that little zombies eat for free each Tuesday night.
The Auglaize County Engineer’s Office featured an eerie coffin from Zombie Family Funeral Home. The Wapak Optimists Lawn Mower Drill Team drew its typical cheers, and the famous caped crusader Batman from True Value Hardware harked to the crowd, “If you need me tonight, send the Bat Signal.”
The event was an overall success, according to both long-time attendees and people attending for the first time.
John Bowersock, of Wapakoneta, said he has attended the parade every year for at least the past 25 years. His granddaughter participated in the parade as a member of the Wapakoneta High School band.
“It is a tradition here,” Bowersock said. “I thought it was a great parade this year.”
Barb Pitson, of Cridersville, was attending the parade with her grandchildren for the first time.
“It was really good,” Pitson said. We enjoyed it and the grandkids really enjoyed themselves. We will be back again next year.”
Wapakoneta Recreation Director and Fifth Third Bank official Jack Hayzlett, who was a parade judge for the fourth time, said it appeared people had taken extra time to decorate this year.
He said the Wal-Mart, which was a group of zombies, and Apollo Career Center, which was a wood crafted pirate’s boat, entries were among some that stood out.
“The parade was just the right length this year,” Hayzlett said.
The parade took two hours to complete.
“The weather was much better this year,” Hazylett said. “I think it might have been a little shorter than usual, but it was easy to see people put more thought into it this year.”