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Public libraries making Halloween less scary for parents

'The kids were really excited to pick out their costume. Everybody is talking about Halloween already. I think it was a great idea, and I think the parents were very excited as well, because it gave them the opportunity to donate some unused Halloween costumes, and get more for free if they wanted' Jen Fryer Powassan Public Library .
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In a few weeks time, youngsters will be dressed-up as ghosts and goblins, superheroes and whatever the latest trend is for Halloween.

But buying costumes can be expensive, especially when there’s more than one child in the home.

Some public libraries are helping families by holding a free costume exchange day.

Next Tuesday, October 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Callander Public Library, people are invited to drop off any unwanted costumes to give away or exchange for a different costume.

“We saw that other area libraries were doing this, and we thought it would be a fun thing to try here. Lots of people end up with excess costumes they can’t use so, we thought it would be a great way to pass them on to someone else who might need them,” explained Melissa Sones, assistant librarian.

“It’s not even necessarily an exchange, because we’re saying if you need a costume, but you don’t have one to exchange, you’re still more than welcome to participate.”

It’s a first for the library, and already it is generating a fair bit of a buzz.

“We’ve never run this before, so we’re not really sure what to expect this year, but we are getting a lot of interest.”

The Powssan and District Union Public Library held a similar event last weekend to help children get decked out for trick-or-treating.

“Over the course of the week people donated Halloween costumes, and we gave them tickets for each item. Then on our costume exchange day, they came back with those tickets and used them to pick out however many costumes they had tickets for, and take the costumes home with them,” explained Jen Fryer, library clerk.

It is was also a first for the Powassan library.

“The kids were really excited to pick out their costume. Everybody is talking about Halloween already. I think it was a great idea, and I think the parents were very excited as well, because it gave them the opportunity to donate some unused Halloween costumes, and get more for free if they wanted. It helped anybody on a bit of a tight budget. We had people with a big heart who wanted to pay it forward, so they brought costumes and just left them with no expectation of swapping them out.”  

And then there are children who prefer to get creative and make their own costume.

This year 11-year-old Emma Cobb has decided to go out for Halloween dressed as a palm tree.

“I wanted to do something different, and my mom comes from a tropical island. So, I’m going to use paper leaves, and then I’m just going to dress in brown,” laughed Cobb     

“I like Halloween because you get to dress up, and I like candy, a lot. We go door-to-door and to the fire station. I like going door-to-door because you get more.”

Her friend McKenna Carney is also reaching deep into her imagination to come up with her own unique costume.

“I want to be like a skeleton that’s dressed up in a dress and has flowers and stuff, kind of like the Day of the Dead. I’m probably going to get my mom to paint my face because she’s good at that,” grinned Carney.

New to the Powassan area, this will be Carney’s first year going to a community event, but she is also looking forward to the traditional door-to-door neighbourhood experience.

“I like seeing other people’s costumes as they go door-to-door too, and I like how people give out different kinds of candy, not like all the same thing. Seeing how people decorate their house is one of the most amazing things.”

Growing up in the Caribbean, Gwen Cobb wasn’t familiar with the Halloween tradition until she moved to Canada.

“I didn’t grow up with Halloween, so it’s not something that’s super important to me, but my kids like it so we do it for them. We don’t put a whole lot into it. I usually help them make costumes. We try not to spend a whole lot on it,” said Cobb.

“My first Halloween here was cold and wet and I thought it was kind of weird people giving out all this candy and dressing up, but it was fun too. I worked in a daycare for 11 years and we always had a fun time at Halloween.”

In recent years, many communities have chosen to transform municipally owned buildings into a “haunted house” where youngsters could trick or treat and enjoy some “scary” Halloween activities in a safe environment.

Callander is celebrating its “Safe Halloween” event at the Callander Community Centre, and the brand new fire hall in Powassan is the location for that community's Halloween party.

North Bay will once again be opening up its fire hall with plenty of scary decorations and high school students dressed in character, and of course treats. A lot of treats!




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