Girls dressed as princesses, boys dressed as zombies, and parents exhausted from late-night costume building came together for the Hillsdale County Halloween Party on Tuesday.
The party featured a costume contest, with winners ranging from adorable babies dressed as hens to children in terrifying Grim Reaper outfits.
3-month-old Jordyn June won first prize for babies. Her mother, Tabatha June, transformed her stroller into a hen house called “Jordyn’s Chicken Farm,” in which Jordyn sat as a fluffy chicken.
Her 10-year-old brother Jaiden June tied for first place in his age group. He dressed as a refrigerator, with his head appearing as if it were being served on a plate. Jaiden tied with 10-year-old Dane Elston, who dressed as a boy who had been captured by the Grim Reaper.
“I really was just trying to scare people and have a creative idea,” Dane said.
Another family duo, 7-year-old Leeland Frolick and 1-year-old Corwin Frolick, won the costume contest for their age groups. Leeland dressed as a zombie with flowing gray hair, cuts on his face, and tattered clothes. Corwin came as a scarecrow with straw hair, overalls, and rosy-red cheeks.
6-year-old Hayez Whaley won another first place prize dressed as a homeless man, with a painted on beard and a sign that read, “Will work for candy.”
After the costume contest, children enjoyed a magic show by Jim Carmody called “The Adventures of Count Spooky.”
Throughout the night volunteers from the St. Anthony’s Knights of Columbus passed out candy, cider, cookies, donuts, and hot dogs. Grand Knight Matt Shalosky, with help from about 10 volunteers, organized the event.
Hillsdale students working with the Liberty Princess Company, which was started by alumna Gianna Marchese ‘17, attended the party dressed as Disney princesses.
“A lot of the kids faces, especially with our more popular princesses like Elsa and Anna, really light up when they see us, and that’s fun to see,” junior Caitlin Lowry said.
The Hillsdale County Halloween Party began with former Michigan State Police Officer Larry Mielke in 1979.
“At the time I was a police officer and the police commander told me I had to put on a Halloween party,” he said.
Mielke said he wasn’t given any money, so he talked to the Hillsdale Police Department. They reserved him a building at the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds.
Originally, the party had two parts: A children’s event, with a costume contest and magic show for children, and a dance for teenagers. A few years after Mielke began the tradition of the Hillsdale County Halloween Party, the dance was ended because “teenagers dancing isn’t what it used to be.”
The party’s purpose was to get kids off the street and reduce vandalism, so Mielke turned to insurance companies, which could benefit most from a reduction in crime and vandalism.
He asked insurance companies for $10 each to sponsor the event and raised $250.
Hundreds of kids attended the event that year and for many years following, according to Mielke. This year, he estimates only about 100 to 150 people came.
He got the event started 39 years ago, but now Mielke leaves event organization to others.