Pilot story and photos by Lynn Davis
The Brookings Elks Lodge 1934 became a haunted house Saturday, with a monster of a Halloween party for nearly 300 local children.
Ghosts and goblins came out of the woodwork to participate in the frightful fun, which included wall to wall games, contests, raffles, tricks and treats for munchkins 12 years of age and younger.
First place pumpkin carver, Hailey Rogers, had lots of fun at the party. "I liked getting dressed up and getting lots of candy," she explained.
"I loved it." said her mother Lesa. "We've never been to it before. I liked that they had it a week before Halloween, it was really thoughtful. "I'd really like to thank all of the volunteers that helped make it happen."
One volunteer, Exalted Ruler Garry Downing, did his best to wrangle the kids into orderly lines, get winners together for pictures, and serve on the prize patrol. Although he left the event more like an Exhausted Ruler, he was happy everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves.
"I think it went real well," Downing remarked. "Turnout was fantastic. It seems like we have more and more kids every year."
Although not sure of how long the Elks have been offering the event to the Brookings-Harbor community, Downing knows it has been going on for longer than he has been a member of this lodge. Next year, Downing will celebrate his 50 year anniversary with the association, so it looks like both he and the event have been, and will be, around for a long time.
According to lead organizer for Saturday's Halloween party, Lecturing Knight and Emblem Club member Alice Phillips, it took a lot of volunteers, as well as great support from community businesses and other individuals, to make it a success.
"We had many volunteers from the Elks and the Emblem Club," explained Phillips. "(They are) too numerous to mention, but very much appreciated."
Phillips said a budget of $200 was combined with cash donations provided by Blue Pacific Realty and Dr. Gerrid Joy, to cover most of the expenses. Candy and other treats were donated by Ray's #1, Ray's in Smith River, and Shop Smart. McDonalds supplied the punch and cups, and Elks and Emblem Club members baked cookies to make the event even sweeter. Trick or Treat bags were provided by the Elks' D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) program, and handed out to children by volunteers Lois Snead and Dorothy Mendenhall.
Contest, game, and raffle prizes included an assortment of toys such as basketballs, dolls, radios, and stuffed animals. Most of the prizes, Phillips said, were purchased with budgeted funds, but some were donated, including a specialized kite, courtesy of Windjammer. In addition, Chetco Federal Credit Union donated $50 savings bonds to the first place winners in each of the three costume contest age categories.
"My favorite part was seeing all of the cute, really original costumes," Phillips said. "I thought everyone looked fantastic and they all had smiles on their faces.
"I'm probably carving close to 20 because I've been getting ideas just from being here," he said.
Local artists Brenda and Kolleen Stafford illustrated how to decorate pumpkins with nonpermanent markers.
"I love doing pumpkins," Kolleen said.
Brenda teaches a rock-painting class at Manley Arts Center and said those techniques transfer easily to pumpkins.
Carl Rovainen is a wood carver who also showed his skill with pumpkins.
Rovainen said he has demonstrated pumpkin carving in the past to children in St. Louis.
Alyssa McClelland-Bane, 14, said she participated in the contest because she often waits until the last minute to carve a jack-o'-lantern.
"And I think carving pumpkins is really fun," she said.