Shane Richardson and his son Killian attempt to win ...
October 22, 2013
With an overnight frost advisory in the forecast and a brisk breeze from the west, the last echoes of summer could be heard Saturday, Oct. 19, at Mokena's Main Park.
"Thank goodness the sun is out, or my kids would not be on these [carnival] rides," said a smiling Traci Dienst of Mokena as she surveyed the scene of Halloween Hollow, a three-day community celebration hosted annually by the Mokena Community Park District — this year's festival marking its 32nd year. "But I see the kids don't seem to notice the chill."
While parents felt the 52-degree air and made sure their sons and daughters had on their coats and caps — one dad was overheard trying to talk to his daughter out of a sno-cone and into a hot chocolate — the children scampered about as if it were mid-July, heading from ride to ride and up and down the carnival midway.
"Everybody's having a great time, and the weather is great," said Park Board President Dennis Bagdon, smiling as he stood in the sunshine, recalling events from years past that had been dampened by rain. "We had a lot of people last night, we're doing well today, and we're optimistic about Sunday."
Attendance was well into the thousands, with people coming from near and far.
"There were people last night who expressed their gratitude; they're from Oak Lawn," he said.
Illustrating his point were Jon and Connie Wensel of Hickory Hills, who brought their granddaughter Sierra McKeever, 4, of Mokena to the event.
"Her mom and dad are working today, and we didn't want her to miss this," Connie said as she watched Sierra taste funnel cake for the first time.
In addition to rides, games, food and the usual carnival fare, Halloween Hollow included musical entertainment, hayrides, pumpkin painting, a build-your-own-scarecrow lab, a martial arts demonstration, a straw maze, a mummy wrap contest, a pumpkin weigh-in with awards for the heftiest, and a costume contest with special awards for the scariest, funniest, prettiest and most original.
"This is a nice thing the park district does for the kids," said Henry Schmidt of Mokena as he captured video of his son Hank, 6, on a junior merry-go-round. "The kids are having the time of their lives. I'm getting this all on my iPhone. The sun is shining, and we'll be gone before the sun goes down and it gets any colder.
"He'll sleep like a log tonight, and I've got some great footage that I'll share [over the Internet] with my folks back in Pennsylvania. I don't know who's in charge here, but they deserve some thanks."
While Bagdon is that man in charge, he was quick to thank everyone associated with Halloween Hollow.
"None of this would be possible without the many volunteers who make it all happen," Bagdon said "This [event] has been going on for a good 30 years. It's a good Mokena tradition."
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