Howl-O-Ween and other strange goings-on

·6 min read

Nov. 1—The Cat in the Hat infiltrated an event for dogs Saturday afternoon at Deming Park.

Correction: That was Haylee Sigmon disguised as the Cat in the Hat, with her dogs Moose and Leo dressed up as Thing 1 and Thing 2, respectively.

They were attending the Howl-O-Ween Dog Walk sponsored by Unlimited Pawsibilities Dog Training and Behavior, where dogs could traverse an obstacle course, walk the perimeter of the park and receive all manner of treats.

"I figured, let's come, get 'em dressed up and just celebrate Halloween," Sigmon said. "Any excuse, right?"

Indeed. Far more treats than tricks were dished out Saturday throughout Terre Haute, as the community observed Halloween a day early in a series of events throughout the city.

Unlimited Pawsibilities owner Mariah Peroni, herself dressed as a dog, oversaw the event, which was costume-optional for both humans and canines. "If the dog's comfortable with it — I know some dogs don't want to be in clothes, which is OK," she said.

While she was otherwise occupied, her niece, Chaylee Eales, dressed as the Grinch, watched one of Peroni's dogs, Marvel, who was dressed as Wonder Woman. She was trying to get Marvel to go through a tunnel and was eventually successful. Eales' own dog Bruno was also on hand, dressed as a shark.

One of Peroni's clients, Gigi, was there with her owner Kristy Engel. "Mariah has her trained in nose-work, so she's a scent-detection dog," said Engel. "She absolutely loves it — for a bulldog with a smushed up nose, she has been to a competition in Illinois where she placed well."

Sandborn dog groomer Dani Oakley was there with her children Jacob and MaKenna and their dogs Hank and Penny Lane, who bore striking resemblances to Sebastian and Ariel from "The Little Mermaid." "I saw this event online and we thought the dogs would love it," Oakley said. "They do — especially him. Hank loves going out and socializing and being around other dogs." Hank proved a master on the obstacle course.

Earlier in the day, the Meadows Shopping Center offered a parade for trick or treaters that seemed to be visited by a flash mob — hundreds of people milled through the mall getting candy from the various stores and businesses, only to diminish to a few dozen after about 20 minutes.

"This is unreal — they just all of a sudden started coming in," said Barbara Kraus, an employee at Repeat Boutique. "We are so excited that all these children are here. It's wonderful to have people out here in the Meadows."

Hanna Gossman was there with her 2-year-old daughter, Ava Morris. "This is our first time — she broke her costume right before we came," Gossman reported.

Broken costume aside, the two were exuberant. "We're just excited to see what there is to offer and get her some candy. She's kind of obsessed with chocolate — as soon as she sees it, she'll probably go a little wild. She's finally old enough to do some trick-or-treating." Gossman confessed she'd probably be helping herself to some of Ava's bounty.

Alan Strader, there with his 3-year-old son Ezekiel and 5-year-old daughter Amyrah — a member of the Paw Patrol and a princess, respectively — admitted that he too gets his fair share of the candy they collect. "About half of it," he said with a laugh.

Jonathan Matheis and Amanda Matheis of Marshall, Illinois, appeared to be up to no good — they were dressed as bank robbers with their children Keaton, 4, Kinsley, 4, Harmony, 5, and Kaydence, 8. (The kids were in a range of outfits from Batgirl to a vampire.) But the only heist that Jonathan said they were interested in was to "scoop up some candy and participate in a little fun, some family time together."

They were in line to get their photo taken together. "We like to commemorate all of our holidays together," Jonathan said.

Michael Southall, who works in software, noted that many businesses have been adversely affected by the pandemic and the proliferation of online marketers. "For everyone here to still have this sense of community and want to be here, it's a good story."

Over in 12 Points, the sense of community was likewise omnipresent. The 12 Points Revitalization Initiative sponsored its second trunk-or-treat neighborhood party — it couldn't offer one last year due to the pandemic. Participating businesses handed out candy, while Studio 12 gave out free hot cocoa and cookies.

Schelia Romanelli of the Initiative said, "The turnout has been awesome. The weather's been great so far," a far cry from 2019, when rain and snow dampened the festivities.

Annette Brainard with the Grace Community Church, concurred. "We're starting to get lines," she said.

The Vigo County Public Library was camped out in the church's parking lot, distributing free books. "We like to be able to give away books rather than candy because everyone else gives away candy," said Sarah Trover, the library's project and event manager.

On Friday night, Trover reported, 2,000 books were given away at the library. "It was crazy, but it was good crazy," she said. "It felt very pre-pandemic, which was nice."

Kelly Hall was there for the first time with his two kids and one of their friends. "So far this is wonderful — you get books to read and everybody likes candy," he said.

His son Isaiah was dressed as Eeyore from "Winnie-the-Pooh." Though he's 15, he still enjoys trick or treating — free candy is nice at any age, he said.

Though the trunk-or-treat event began later in the afternoon, Ferm Fresh, a new kid on the 12 Points block, celebrated Halloween all day Saturday, offering pumpkins for children to decorate, masks, word-search puzzles and their special kombucha tea.

Jennifer Cummins-Zuber's children were seated around a table decorating their own pumpkins as she enjoyed some kombucha. The family had traveled from Olney, Illinois, to attend the Terre Haute Torpedoes Halloween Splash swim meet, and after seeing the event mentioned online, decided to make it a weekend.

"I cannot tell you the last time we were here, but we're excited to be here for the weekend," she said. "It is a festive weekend for us. The kids were very excited to get dressed up."

Ferm Fresh owner Megan Gossett said the neighborhood has made her feel welcome in her three and a half months of business.

"All the business owners and everybody who's part of the revitalization, they all work together really well," Gossett said. "Everybody wants to support each other. We just feel really lucky to be a part of the community."

David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at david.kronke@tribstar.com.

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