COLUMBIA — The wet weather and muddy fairground outside didn't dampen the spirits of the kids and adults who attended this year's Spooktacular Halloween event. All manner of creatures from witches to zombies converged inside the Central Missouri Events Center to celebrate Halloween on Thursday.
A mother-daughter duo dressed in matching princess outfits competed in a "mummy race." The daughter twirled as fast as she could while her pink hair extensions whipped through the air. Her mom attempted to wrap her daughter as tightly as possible in toilet paper as they competed against another team to see who could mummify themselves the fastest.
As the one-minute competition came to a close, the little princess raised her hand in victory, her pink extensions barely visible through the layers of fresh wrapping. She then dipped her hand into the pumpkin bucket to claim her grand prize: candy.
Spooktacular, put on by the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department with the help of local businesses, clubs and nonprofit agencies, is usually held at the Hearnes Center. Due to scheduling conflicts, the celebration was held at the events center. Parents and kids were overwhelmingly delighted by the new venue.
"This event is perfect, but it's a little too scary," said Nancy Johnson, an 8-year-old girl there with her dad and brother. "But I'm very sensitive to being scared."
Adults mostly agreed with her, welcoming the new space. Many parents commented that despite the smaller venue, the space seemed less crowded and easier to navigate.
"It's been really fun, and it's a nice alternative to the rain," said Dawn Baker, who attended with her two kids.
A girl sporting a Florida Gators football jersey shot plastic balls at a hoop set up a few feet away, the ball changing colors as it flew through the air. Two of the Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America, squared off in another game nearby, attempting to pull as many rubber ducks out of a makeshift pool as possible using plastic fishing rods.
Every game earned them a sweet treat. Kids and parents darted around, moving from game to game and admired the many different inflatable attractions on display, including a carriage containing a corpse that sprung to life every few seconds from its coffin.
Event staff said they were worried the new venue would drive people away from attending Spooktacular this year, but families and friends came out in droves to celebrate Halloween, with only a slightly lower turnout than last year.
Event coordinator SJ Idel said about 3,200 people attended the event — 600 fewer than last year. He said that's a great turnout considering the venue is not as centrally located as the Hearnes Center.
The event center will be considered for future Spooktacular events, Idel said. He was told the Hearnes Center will most likely not be available for this event in the future.
"The event went extremely well, we felt like it was still a very popular event and we feel like it will continue to grow," Idel said.
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