FUNKSTOWN — In a tradition that has lasted nearly 30 years, school bands, kids dressed in Halloween costumes and fire engines slowly made their way down Baltimore Street Thursday night in the town’s annual Halloween parade.
And as usual, youths in the bands and costumed kids who walked in the parade were treated to a meal afterward at the American Legion, Post 211.
Inside the legion hall, kids crowded around serving lines for chicken nuggets, chips, cookies, soft drinks and candy, while outside members of the South Hagerstown High School and E. Russell Hicks marching bands were treated to hot dogs and soft drinks under a pavilion.
The kids inside could also compete in a costume contest for ugliest, prettiest, funniest and most original categories.
All the meals were free as organizers said close to 130 kids gathered for the event inside the legion.
“We’ve had it so crowded (in past years) that we had to put up a rope and keep the adults back there,” said Barbara Mullenix, pointing to a corner in the back of the legion room where the food was served.
Mullenix is treasurer of the Funkstown American Legion Auxiliary Unit 211, which hosted the party with the American Legion.
Mullenix talked about the parade and the party as she poured soft drinks for little hands which kept reaching across a bar for them.
The parade and party was started many years ago because the auxiliary group is “very children oriented,” and it “just seemed like a nice idea,” she said.
Mullenix said she thinks trick-or-treating stopped in town at one point because of safety concerns, and the parade and party was a good way to have a controlled event for kids.
While the American Legion and the auxiliary put on the party, the town organizes the parade, Mullenix said. The town also makes a donation for the food, she said.
Groups of people lined up along Baltimore Street as the parade got under way at 6 p.m.
Mike and Donna Potter were waiting to see their daughter, Megan, marching in the E. Russell Hicks band.
“She’s right in the front line in the middle,” Donna Potter said.
Dennis Sarno was waiting to see his daughter, Jordan, who was marching in the color guard unit for the South Hagerstown High School marching band.