Good witches, bad witches, Harry Potter characters and all sorts of festive folks were dressed up partaking in the inaugural Witches and Wizards Night Out Saturday, sponsored by the O’ Fallon Downtown District.
“I think it was marvelous,” said Whitney Leidner, owner of the Refinery Salon, and on the events committee.
“We learned a lot this year and will make some changes next year. But for the first event, I couldn’t have asked for more. The feedback has been positive. We’ve had suggestions how to make it even better. All the businesses were busy. We’ve got some fine-tuning to do on the wristbands. But we were happy how much of it went.”
Mayor Herb Roach, who was one of the costume contest judges, said the crowd estimate was about 1,500, and Leidner concurred. “I think so,” she said.
The event included a flash mob dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” a Witches Dance, Headless Horseman, a Witches Market of business booths, a Cauldron Crawl with special drinks at local bars and restaurants and a costume contest.
The downtown was festooned with colorful lights and decor as people strolled around.
“I love seeing everybody out,” said Julie Hughes, owner of Furchild Boutique. She sponsored a pet costume contest earlier in the day.
“Isn’t it cool?” exclaimed Ellen Leaf-Moore, owner of Fezziwig’s.
She is on the events committee and announced that the Downtown District would sponsor the Night Out again next year, on Oct. 17.
Leaf-Moore said they already had more ideas for categories - such as duo, group, best movie theme, and so forth. And they hope to have the contest at the O’Fallon Station, which was already booked this year.
Merchants decorated their windows, even if they were not open that evening. At least 14 businesses participated in sprucing up for the holiday theme.
More than $1,000 in prizes was given out to winners in the Witches and Wizards Costume Contest, with such categories as Best Hat, Broom, Makeup, Cackle, Shoes and Glamour for Witches and Best Staff, Cloak and Hat for Wizards. Three awards for overall witches, one for wizard and one for Best Spirit were given out. Courage and Grace supplied the handmade plaques.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Tracy Rauch, master of ceremonies for the costume contest.