Lions and tigers and superheroes, oh my!
By Erica Scharn
Two boys in Star Wars costumes engaged in a light saber duel as Davis Square’s Statue Park filled up with families before the start of the 10th Annual Pumpkin Stroll. They soon put down their arms when the noisemakers were handed out. “We encourage them to have a noisy parade,” said Kathleen Houghton, Recreation Specialist for the Somerville School Department.
The Pumpkin Stroll is a free, all-ages costume parade held the Sunday before Halloween every year. The School Department and Houghton organize the event, with the Somerville police and auxiliary police taking care of the street crossings. The stroll along the Minuteman Trail bike path ends at Lexington Avenue Park, where the children are greeted with games and treats. Houghton estimated that there were close to 150 people attending the October 27 event.
“People have so much fun with the costumes. People are very creative,” said Houghton. The event began a decade ago when she wanted to start something that would be fun for kids and would involve costumes. “I heard a lot from parents saying that for the younger ones, they put a lot of effort into the costumes and they don’t really have anywhere to go with it. And the first year we did it, the kids really loved being part of the parade. They’ve all gone to watch them so they got a big kick out of being the parade.”
The children frolicked in the leaves along the walk and got into character. The superheroes and pirates pretended to battle. The princesses and a ladybug twirled and danced. Some kids raced ahead of the parade on scooters, while others skipped next to parents and strollers.
The honking of the noisemakers soon gave way to even more laughs and screams as the children descended upon the playground. Little astronauts and a Spiderman played with toys in the basketball court while the Star Wars characters resumed their light saber battle. Parents refereed races, helped their children on the jungle gyms, and talked with other parents.
“It’s good that it ends at the playground,” said Somerville resident Vicky Reichert, watching her daughters play. “It’s also so fun to just see all the kids at the playground in their costumes, so cute. We saw a unicorn that was really cool, and a Minnie Mouse, and a dragon.” Reichert said that she made her daughters’ costumes, minus the tutus. Clio, two years old, was a daisy. Vienna, four, was dressed as a chick, adorned with yellow feathers.
The Pumpkin Stroll was a new experience for some, including the Reichert family and Sara Wilkinson, who was in Somerville to visit her brother and his children. But Houghton said that she sees some of the same kids every year. “Here we have some people who used to volunteer, now they’re bringing their children,” said Houghton. “Some of them started out doing this when they were doing community service, in high school or college. They came to help out and now they’re coming with their own kids.”