Helped by a warm, breezy and sunny Saturday, the 29th Annual Festival at Bel Air Halloween Costume Contest and Trick-or-Treat event Saturday at the shopping center in south Bel Air “was a great success,” according to its organizers.
“We had about three or four thousand people all told in the center for the event,” said Mike Blum, who managed the annual celebration on behalf of the shopping center on Route 24 at Bel Air South Parkway. “That includes kids, infants, parents, grandparents and even two costumed dogs.”
Most of the visitors came to the Festival to “trick-or-treat” the stores in the shopping center, many of which had their doors open to welcome local families.
“We had about 60 pounds of candy all ready,” Dave Mowery of Family Recreation Products, whose store faced the parking lot where the main event was held, said. “It all was gone in less than two hours!”
In the main event parking lot, festivities were helped along by Special Guests Mr. Chuck E. Cheese and Scrungy the Bear, from Chuck E. Cheese’s and Klein’s ShopRite, respectively, who did line dancing to festive music and posed with the children. Also, Festival merchant T-Mobile set up a table to introduce its services to the crowd. All children in the crowd received candy, trick-or-treat bags and coupons from Kids First Swim School and OshKosh B’Gosh, courtesy of the Festival at Bel Air Shopping Center.
The costume contest began at 11 a.m.; four judges, including “Rapunzel” and “Belle” (costumes provided by The Magic Continues Character Company of Forest Hill) first selected 35 semi-finalists and then a dozen finalists from the estimated crowd of more than 500 entrants. Using the “Crowd Applause and Cheers” technique, the 12 finalists were narrowed down to five, then the final three.
Winning the grand prize was “The Claw Machine,” starring Tom Diggins of Abingdon as the prize in the machine. Second place was the “Haunted Jewelry Box,” featuring Layla Bray of Bel Air as the ballerina and Diane Gray of Bel Air as the box keeper. Third place was “Cotton Candy,” featuring Brinlee Boone of Joppatowne.
Prizes included $150 for grand prize, $100 for second place and $75 for third place, in the form of gift certificates to Festival at Bel Air merchants. Finalists received special prize gift bags.