By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
As the Washington County Courthouse clock tower struck 5 p.m. Tuesday, crowds of people adorned in a variety of multicolored costumes left the starting line in Central Park to begin their annual trips around the Washington square to collect candy and other goodies.
Starting the countdown to the opening of Trick-or-Treat Around The Square, Chamber of Commerce director Michelle Redlinger spoke from the bandshell. She adjusted her costume of a bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans as she announced the winner of the Washington Public Library Festival of Pumpkins contest was Brianna Hamm. Then it was time for all the little ghosts and goblins to move to the sidewalks leading to the crosswalks to the businesses on the square. Businessowners stood in costumes or had set up tables to greet the trick-or-treaters with candy as one of the final events of the annual Oktober Madness celebration started.
Redlinger thought the numbers of people may have been down a little from the normal 800 due to the 40-degree weather. While the events continued on the square, the YMCA of Washington County also opened its doors, offering pony rides, hayrack rides, bounce houses, games and a meal. By 6:30 p.m. Redlinger found the food offered was running out with an hour left to go.
?I think maybe the cold weather shifted people to participate with the food and activities inside,? she said, while rushing to bring more groceries to the waiting Y volunteers. ?But people are still going around the square.?
As the groups of costumed kids moved into the Washington neighborhoods to further collect treats from area houses and the evening moved into night, the events of Oktober Madness officially ended for another year.
Originally, ?Oktober Madness? encompassed only the Trick-or-Treat event. Since hundreds of people from all over the country were attending, the retail ?Moonlight Madness? event was added. Three years ago, the event lasted a week and two years ago, the Chamber expanded it into a full month of celebration.
Looking back on the last month, Redlinger said the event had been a success and promised it would be back next year with many of the same events.
?Its mad with tons of events and lots of activities,? she said. ?I have tried to make it to as many events as I could. It?s nice that we live in a town that has so much to offer.?
She complimented the annual Oktoberfest at Horak Insurance, as well as Retail Moonlight Madness, saying both events had drawn a large crowd. She also said the haunted walks had good attendance numbers, although the temperature dipped last weekend while they were being held. She further complimented the annual Marr Park Halloween Hike and several concerts and events at the library.
Redlinger said Oktober madness would return next year, with many of the same events.