Wrangell Sentinel -

By Dan Rudy 

Wrangell celebrates Halloween and the harvest


Dan Rudy/ Wrangell Sentinel

Dressed as a ghost pirate, Virginia Oliver and a vampiric Tommy Rooney take a break from spooking visitors to the Johnson-O'Malley program's second annual haunted house on Friday.

Pint sized poltergeists, ghouls, Minions and Stormtroopers took to the streets in Wrangell last weekend, as a variety of tricked-out trick-or-treaters stocked up on sugary sweets for Halloween.

Probably the best costume to have for Friday's "Early Trick or Treats" would have incorporated an umbrella. Wrangell received 1.86 inches of chilly rain that day, most of it during the afternoon. Turnout was still strong, with children and parents completing the circuit of participating businesses in the holiday hand-out.

"I think it went really well," said Kelly Weatherford, new manager for the Chamber of Commerce, which organized the event. "Almost every business downtown participated, whether they were Chamber members or not," she said.

Earlier in the day at Evergreen Elementary School, students took part in a harvest festival and fun run. Kids and chaperones legged it around the Volunteer Park trails, returning to the school gym for snacks and activities.

The event was staged cooperatively by the school's E.A.T.S. Garden program and running group Southeast Beasts, the first such collaboration between the two. Kids were encouraged to keep healthy, while also sharing a meal made from food grown in the student-maintained garden. Third graders made a soup using potatoes and onions grown this fall, served alongside juice and fruits. Deemed to be a success, the format may be repeated again in the future.

"The teachers want to do this in the spring, because it's so much fun," said Jenn Davies, who organizes E.A.T.S.

Considerably drier weather on Saturday evening made for better trick-or-treating, with groups and families dressing up and going door-to-door.

Harbor Light Assembly of God Church held its 14th annual Harvest Fest at the community center. An array of carnival games, a spooky box maze and assorted inflatable castles were available where the kids could play, and parents found time to compare costumes and talk amongst themselves over refreshments.

Harbor Light pastor Kem Haggard explained the festival is a chance to give back and serve, as dozens of volunteers from the church and community assisted throughout the evening.

"It takes a lot of people," he said. Businesses helped as well, with Bobs' IGA and City Market both providing food for the hot dog stand and popcorn machine.

"That helps with expenses, because everything is free," Haggard said.

A few blocks away, seniors and caregivers with Wrangell Medical Center's long-term care program dressed up to hand out treats in the hospital lobby. The program's activities department pitched in with the decorations and organization, and family members and staff donated candy and materials to hand out. By now an established local tradition, the hospital's annual Halloween celebration gives resident patients the chance to join in the fun and meet with neighbors.

Submitted Photo

Wrangell Public Schools tech director Matt Gore and secretary Jess Rooney ham it up at the Middle School's annual Halloween party on Friday, themed "Fiddler of the Northern Lights."

Later even still was live music and a costume contest at Rayme's Bar. Local musicians Glenn and Kelley Decker set the tunes for the night, and patrons competed for $50 cash prizes in three different categories. Judges picked Asia Fisher and Katerina Sostaric for funniest costumes, dressed respectively as the Pit Stop and a pizza dog; Tracey Gillen for the scariest; and mermaid Jillian Privett for most eye-catching outfit.

Halloween may have been fun for most, but at least it wasn't too rowdy. Though more staff was on call than usual at Wrangell Police Department, officers attended to two Minor Consuming Alcohol citations and an injured bird Saturday evening but not much else. There was a report received of a runaway, but the youth was said to have returned home by the next day.

"It was actually a quiet evening," said Chief Doug McCloskey. "Just the way we like them."


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