Museum of the Grand Prairie’s Halloween celebration is just good old-fashioned fun

The Museum of the Grand Prairie was all abuzz with more than 200 visitors for its annual Old Timey Halloween event last Friday. Mahomet resident Stan Stafford said he discovered the event while searching for Halloween activities for daughters Bianca, 9, and Daisy, 6.

"This was the first thing that popped up," he said.

Stafford made a whole day out of it, taking his daughters to see "Hotel Transylvania" in Savoy and later promising to pop out downtown for Trunk or Treat.

Bianca and Daisy Stafford, who wore a witch and tiger costume, respectively, enjoyed decorating popcorn balls at the museum. Stan Stafford saw the event as a great way to bond with the two.

"I think it's great," he said. "I like that there's different activities and fun stuff you can do with your family in a safe environment."

Mahomet resident Kim Holt watched son Bryce Holt, 8, hop into the fun by bobbing for doughnuts from a string.

"He'll try everything," she joked.

The two attended last year's Halloween celebration and enjoyed the event so much that they decided to return.

"We love to come to events here," Kim Holt said. "We came to their event (Harvest Fest) they had with all of the fall events."

Suzie Miller of Mahomet decided to bring her children, Sophia, 7, and Kristoff, 3, Miller to Old Timey Halloween as a fun way to enjoy time together as Sophia was out of school for the day.

"I think it's fun for the kids now that she's in school," Suzie Miller said. "It's fun for her to see some of her classmates here."

Sophia was dressed head to toe in rainbow colors as a unicorn, while brother Kristoff dawned a pirate costume.

"They picked them out," Suzie Miller said. "She's all about mermaids and unicorns this year. So we split the difference, and she had a mermaid birthday party and a unicorn for Halloween."

As for Kristoff, he was inspired after watching "Peter Pan."

Suzie Miller said the family lives "just down the road" from the museum and that they "love" to visit often. The Millers keep coming back not just for the museum's displays and events but also for a communal bond.

"There's a sense of community because you got out and do things with other people and people in your neighborhood," she said.

Katie Snyder, education program specialist, is in her third year running the annual event. Though she is unsure how long it has occurred, Snyder has seen the event double in size since her time at the museum.

Activities that drew the crowd this year included bobbing for doughnuts, crafts, popcorn ball decorating, slime making and a scavenger hunt.

Snyder said the bobbing for doughnuts is similar to the well-known bobbing for apples game.

"In the past, unmarried folks would bob for apples, and the first people who would get the apples in their mouths would be the next to be married."

And though the doughnuts were a hit, the overall crowd-pleaser of the event was certainly the slime station.

"It's always a ridiculously huge big hit," Snyder added.

The education program specialist's favorite part was simply watching all of the families come together and seeing the variety of children's costumes.

Her favorite was Amelia, 10, and Josie, 7, McCarver's vintage women's baseball uniforms inspired from the movie "A League of Their Own."

"I like that especially because it's a history aspect and about women's rights," Snyder said.

"Whenever you see a kid in a costume, you're thinking about who they want to be," she added.

The event requires months of planning and is something Snyder is "always thinking about," but more than anything, she hopes free programs such as Old Timey Halloween encourage others to explore the museum and see all it has to offer while forming a bond with others.

"We're a museum that belongs to everyone in Champaign County," Snyder said. "I love to see people from all over the county having conversations together and understand that these are their neighbors and that their community is wider than just their town."

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