Valparaiso residents traveling along the north end of their fair city may have heard some rather strange sounds, or noticed some peculiar sights along Calumet Avenue this weekend, as the friendly, inviting halls and rooms of the Valparaiso YMCA were transformed into something ghoulishly sinister for their annual Halloween at the Y event.
The long-standing event, which has become something of a tradition for the YMCA, sees hundreds of area families stop by the YMCA for an evening of spooky fun.
“Every year, we attract over 300 families here,” said Carol Crowe, Marketing Director for the Valpo YMCA. “Tickets are $5 per child. We have food vouchers which are just $2, and parents can have their child’s photo taken here tonight, also for just $2. Everything else is included in the price of admission.”
Family-friendly features of this year’s Halloween at the Y included face painting, balloon animals, and crafts. The gym held a costume contest, as well as several carnival games such as Plinko and a hoop contest. The YMCA pool was transformed into a haunted swamp, where those brave enough could test their will by taking a rowboat ride through the darkened room, as lights flashed and werewolves howled. Legend tells of creatures that lurk in the water and bump and rock the boats, as swamp creatures slither nearby.
And let’s not forget the Haunted Hallway.
“I was scared when I walked down there earlier today, and that was when the lights were on,” said Crowe, with a noticeable shiver.
Diana Sonnenberg, Director of Preschool Programs at the YMCA looks forward each year to the event.
“It’s a community event that offers a safe alternative to trick-or-treating,” said Sonnenberg. “The parents love it because they can bring their kids here and the whole family can have fun.”
Fun was completely obvious on the faces of the families who came to the event – many of whom came in full costume, with parents even getting into costume to enjoy the evening with their children.
Kelly Cicco, a teacher at Parkview Elementary school in Valparaiso, was enjoying some carnival games with her husband and their two young children, daughter Violet )6) and son Vincent (5).
“We’re always here at the Y,” said Cicco. “Our son goes to pre-school here at the Y. This is just a great time, and a great opportunity to get out and see our friends and neighbors who are here with their children. It really shows just what a wonderful sense of community we have here in Valpo.”
If you missed this years’ Halloween at the Y, don’t howl in despair – there’s always next year.
“We’ll definitely be back,” said Sonnenberg. “This is a tradition here at the Y, and each year, it just keeps getting bigger and better.”
The time of year has come around
Again for shocks of sight and sound
For ghastly figures who alight
With formless shape
And soundless flight
When right is wrong
And wrong is right
So grab a broom
Or slither by
But don’t miss Halloween
At the Y