By Carra Higgins
Thousands of children from all over the area got their chance to have fun and celebrate Halloween Saturday in uptown Beckley during the 26th annual Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia’s Tailgate Halloween.
Leslie Baker, director of operations for the Youth Museum, explained the event began as a way to ensure a fun Halloween for children who might not live in a neighborhood or have a safe area to trick-or-treat. Other than assurance of safe candy, the Tailgate Halloween event gave children a chance to get out in their costumes during the daylight hours and avoid inclement weather that is predicted to arrive during this week’s other Halloween dates and times, Baker added.
Around noon, the line of children, dressed as everything from dragons to fairy princesses, and their parents stretched from near Third Street, up Neville and onto Prince Street waiting to make their way around the city parking lot near the Intermodel Gateway. Area businesses, elected officials and clubs were among those waiting to hand out candy and greet the masses.
Among the groups giving away candy were clubs from Woodrow Wilson High School. Kathy Mace, Future Business Leaders of America adviser, said her students approached her about participating in the tailgate, which she says is a safe event for area youngsters.
FBLA member Courtney Bailey helped hand out candy dressed for the occasion herself.
“We just want to make the kids happy,” Bailey said. “They’re so cute.”
WWHS Drama Department was also on hand. They were dressed as characters from “Beauty and the Beast” as they greeted wizards, monsters and more with candy and friendly reminders about the upcoming production. Children were enjoying getting their pictures taken with Belle in her formal gown and Beast in his tuxedo.
Makayla Dunbar, 11, was getting ready to get in line for the event Saturday when she explained she dressed as a Monster High werewolf because she likes the show. As for why she was excited about the Tailgate: “You get candy! And I like to see the costumes.”
Dunbar’s mother, Stephanie, said she brought her children to the event because it’s safe.
Also waiting were the Ghostbusting father-son duo of Jimmy and Gage Pettry of Beckley. Jimmy Pettry worked on the custom-made “Ghostbuster” costumes for about a year and crafts a different costume for the event annually. Although the costumes stood out, there was one thing that stood out for young Gage Pettry: “Candy!”