Halloween at the Walter E. Schmidt Youth Activity Center (YAC) was just spooky enough to be exciting for the pre-K through 5th graders who dressed up as their favorite fantasy characters to celebrate the holiday in a safe setting.
Star Wars was the theme–depicted in original murals and decorations created by staff members–of the noon to 4 p.m. free party sponsored by the Santa Clara Department of Parks and Recreation. High school volunteers facilitated the kids’ activities on both the Light Side and the Dark Side of the Force: a haunted tunnel, pumpkin walk and jump house; carnival games and crafts such as making lightsabers (laser swords from the Star Wars universe).
The kids were bewitched by Spencer Grey’s Magic Show and engaged by catchy, original songs from Teacher Sean’s Music Factory: “We’re going on adventures today. We’re flying though the sky with the witches way up high.”
“This is so great,” says parent Chris Lee, holding the hand of his daughter, Isabelle, as they enter the town of YACville. They make their way down Trick or Treat Lane, knocking on the doors of miniature houses and begging for candy.
“The party is well designed, surprisingly good,” Lee says.
“My three kids really enjoyed themselves,” says Alexandra Murillo, a former youth commissioner for Santa Clara. “Trick or Treat Lane was a brilliant idea.”
Winners were selected from each of the three age groups in the costume contest. From a double line of K – 1st graders on the stage, the winners were the Hulk (Jayden), a pilot (Luca) and an unnamed pink flamingo.
“I really like planes; they’re so cool,” says Captain Luca.
From a single line of 2nd – 3rd graders, the top winners were an angel (Amishi) and a diner waitress (Andrea). Of the seven 4th and 5th grade contestants, the winners were Cleopatra (Sreenidhi), a spider witch (Cassandra) and a minion (Grace).
“It was great to see all the creativity of the participants and how these children from all of Santa Clara came together to celebrate Halloween,” says Miss Santa Clara 2015, Jessa Carmack, who was one of the three costume contest judges.
“We could have a bigger party this year because it’s on a Saturday,” says Department of Parks and Recreation supervisor Gayle Ichiho, dressed as an Ewok from Star Wars. “It’s really nice to have all the departments working together in the party–fire, police, library and water.”
The water department’s new mobile vehicle, the Tap Water Express, provided free water for all the costumed creatures and their parents–some also cleverly costumed – enjoying the spooky thrills of YACville.