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Dinner, dance will kick off Halloween Parade

When the Cottage Grove area Jaycees folded last year, in turn endangering the popular Halloween parade, Sheila Nitz saw an opportunity -- not just to save the autumn tradition popular with Cottage Grove families, but to expand it, the Strawberry Fest Committee vice president said.

The Halloween fun has now changed hands, changed names and for the second year in a row includes a Friday night event.

"We didn't want to see it disappear, it's something the community seems to enjoy," Nitz said. "And it was an opportunity for the Strawberry Fest Committee to bring another community event for people to come enjoy, not just having the Strawberry Fest in the summer but also something in the fall."

The Strawberry Fest Committee now organizes the October celebration -- Monster Bash 2008 -- that kicks off Friday, Oct. 24 with a spaghetti dinner, dance, games and silent auction from 5 to 11 p.m. at the Cottage Grove VFW Red Barn on East Point Douglas Road.

The night starts with dinner, from 5 to 8 p.m., with costume judging from 7 to 8 p.m., silent auction winners announced at 7:45 p.m. and dancing to end the night from 8 to 11 p.m.

Traditionally the kids costume contest has been held the morning prior to the Halloween Parade. This year, though, the competition has been moved to Friday night to allow more kids to participate, Nitz says.

"We wanted to open it up to the community, kind of expand it," she said of the costume contest.

Costumes will be judged in age categories and three winners chosen from ages 0 to 3, 4 to 7, 8 to 12, 13 to 18. The best-costumed group will also be eligible for an award. The winners will serve as the Halloween Parade's first grand marshals, Nitz says.

Tickets to the Monster Bash 2008 festivities are $10 for adults ages 13 and older and $5 for children. Kids 3 years old and younger are admitted free. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling (651) 458-9495.

The traditional Saturday morning Halloween Parade will begin at 11 a.m., with participants lining up at the District Service Center lot on East Point Douglas Road. The route again runs south on East Point Douglas toward the District Program Center.

Parade participants will compete for awards for the Best Theme, Halloween Theme and Best Non-Motorized categories.

Nitz expects when parade registration closes Oct. 18 to have between 40 and 50 entrants march the roughly 1 mile route.

"That's a pretty good number for a Halloween parade," Nitz said.

The deadline for parade signups is this Saturday. For details and a registration form, go to or The entry fee is $15.

Jon Avise can be reached at