Having been around since 1974, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Westminster to have a few everyday ghosts, or at least metaphorical ones.
But on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 30, the eve of Halloween, the streets came alive with ghosts, goblins, goofballs, and glamour-girls of all stripes during the annual American Legion Post 31 Halloween parade through downtown.
The family-friendly event drew plenty of young folks as hundreds lined up and down Main Street to watch the parade.
The parade began at the Masonic Lodge on Monroe Street and with flashing lights and the sound of live matches, the parade made its way down Main Street to Longwell Avenue near the city hall.
Volunteer judges will award 20 prizes for costumes.
The Westminster Municipal Band, out in numbers, opened the parade with a traditional march.
Following right behind them was an itty-bitty batgirl, Skylynn Dell, 3, of Westminster, who was the first costumed participant to walk in the parade and led the way in a black tutu and sparking mask.
Costume participants ranged from large community groups to families to individuals.
One group, Poppy’s Zombies shuffled and groaned alongside a golf cart decked in lights that transported some of the younger zombies. Even the family dog Tucker donned a ragged zombie shirt.
William Garbar, of Westminster, aka Poppy, said the family has been participating in the parade for about nine years. Last year, they were Poppy’s Zoo.
Another parade walker who got some help from family was four-year-old Max Bruski, who dressed as a farmer and rode the miniature John Deere riding tractor he got for Christmas last year. His family accompanied him on a full size riding mower.
He said he is excited to go trick-or-treating on Halloween.
A host of fantastical vehicles also joined the parade transporting everyone from Batman to David S. Pumpkins to Jack Sparrow.
Phil Smith, of Baltimore, was a first-time participant in the parade with his kinetic sculpture, “Oh Snap,” a light-up snapping turtle and alligator hybrid he built himself from scratch using salvaged materials. He built the vehicle for the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race and it is the seventh one he has built.
American Legion Post 31 has been hosting the tradition for about 70 years. They partner with the GFWC Junior Woman's Club of Westminster, as well as the city’s government and police department.
In prior years, they organized the parade on Saturday to coincide with the city’s trick-or-treat activities, but found that many children were too tuckered out to participate in the parade after. This year was the first it switched back to Tuesday night.
Patti Jo Green, public affairs chair for the GFWC Junior Woman's Club said the idea of the evening was a safe way for kids to celebrate. She especially enjoys seeing creative costumes that participants make themselves.
“It’s a real community thing,” said Jim Beckman, adjutant for Post 31. The celebration was especially meaningful as it falls in the American Legion’s 100 year anniversary.
Each year, he said, they have a good turnout of spectators, but they are looking for more people who will walk in the parade.
According to the website for Post 31, American Legion posts have organized activities to encourage safe celebration of Halloween dating back to the 1930s. For more information, visit www.carrollpost31.org/halloween-safety-parade.