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Pumpkins and pooches: Uptown Halloween

The festivities began in Uptown Park, where local business owners stood outside their shops handing out candy and greeting kids and parents while tables, games and live children’s music were set up as a mini trick or treat session before the parade.

On Thursday, Oct. 24, the Oxford Parks and Rec Department held its annual Uptown Trick or Treat event and Halloween parade, providing a festive and safe space for children and the community to come together. 

“We try to always make everything we do kind of big and something to draw attention and bring people in,” said Ryan Himes, who works as part of Oxford Parks and Rec.

First-years Elizabeth Webber and Julia Hermes ran games, gave out candy to kids and complemented their costumes. All of the stations were run by students involved in the Project Kids Network organization on campus.

Oxford resident Christine Abrahms attends the event every year with her children.

“It’s perfect,” Abrahms said. “It’s perfectly safe for the kids and they enjoy it and get too much candy.” 

Costumes included everything from Snow White and the Magic Mirror to the entire cast of the children’s show Paw Patrol.

Olivia Cook, 10, who attended the event with her father, Wes, had one of the most elaborate costumes, featuring felt feathers, bright colors and a huge hat. She dressed as Zazu from The Lion King because she’d recently had that role in a play and already had the costume. 

At 6:30 pm, the pet costume contest was held on the Uptown Park stage. Ten dogs entered the competition, dressed in costumes ranging from a cow to a mermaid to a dragon. The dogs were led across the stage by their owners, some of whom also participated by dressing up in coordinating outfits. The four categories included Cutest, Scariest, Most Original and Judges’ Choice. 

Oxford resident Stephanie Sirois dressed up her dog, Chloe, as a cow. Chloe’s costume and decorated wagon was not only creative, but it brought attention to a local social issue. 

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“We live on a cow farm and so we wanted to bring awareness to supporting farmers,” Sirios said.

Sophomore Kiernan Meakin brought her dog, Kiki, who was dressed as a mop, while she  dressed as a waitress. The costume was completed with a mop bucket for Kiki to ride around in, and it turned out to be the biggest hit among the audience. 

“That mop was hysterical,” Oxford resident Kelsey Hunsche said. She couldn’t contain her laughter as Kiki was rolled across the stage in her bucket.

In the end, Kiki was awarded Most Original Costume. Chloe, dressed as a cow, won Cutest Costume, while Katie the pug was awarded Judge’s Choice for her mermaid costume and “under the sea” decorated wagon. In a surprising turn of events, Gunner, dressed as Dory from Finding Nemo, won Scariest Costume.  

Gunner was accompanied by his owner Chris Mueller, whose wife and daughter dressed as Darla and Nemo, respectively.

“Darla was pretty scary in the movie,” the Parks and Rec contest host said, explaining the decision. After winning, Gunner excitedly ran up to his family as they celebrated and gave him belly rubs.

Prizes for the contest were donated by local businesses and included three gift baskets and a painting of a dog dressed as Elvis. Prizes were donated by Learning Blocks Preschool, Oxford Kennel and Oxford Veterinary Hospital and Animal Care Clinic.

After the pet costume contest was over, parents and kids had a few moments to get ready and grab something to eat before the Halloween parade at 7 p.m. 

The night ended as the Halloween parade, sponsored by the Oxford Lions Club, traveled down High Street. Even Oxford mayor Kate Rousmaniere got in on the fun, riding in the parade in a light-up car and wearing a sash saying “Halloween Queen.”