There’s something about Halloween.
Maybe it’s donning a persona to go along with a costume.
Or it might be the joy of watching kids having fun.
But then again, perhaps it’s just the mounds of candy.
But Tonto Basin on Saturday demonstrated conclusively that it’s also about happy families enjoying the support of a whole community.
Hopefully, Rim Country festivities in many communities will prove as big a hit as Tonto Basin’s festivities delivered this weekend.
On Tuesday, Oct. 29, the Payson Elks Lodge will throw its first Halloween Party from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m in the lodge, with free hot dogs and hamburgers for the kids, carnival games and face painting.
And of course, candy.
On Halloween Night, the Payson Parks and Recreation Department will host its annual Trunk or Treat Halloween Festival. Co-hosted by Chili’s restaurant, the town and restaurant will fill Main Street with activities such as dart throwing, a bean bag and basketball toss, pumpkin bowling, face painting, a fortune teller and a scary storyteller.
The historic Oxbow Saloon will house a scary haunted house put on by the Payson Theatre Department. For the minimal entrance fee of $3 or $2 and a can of food for local food banks, families of all ages can experience chills and thrills.
This year a record number of cars and trucks will line the street to dispense you guessed it — candy!
Tonto Basin kicked off a week’s worth of Halloween fun with its 30th Annual Halloween Carnival. Besides candy, the kids could not wait for a chance to smash a car with a sledge hammer, win a cake in the cake walk or meander through the haunted house.
Now in its 30th year, the carnival drew families from Globe and Miami as well as throughout the Rim Country. “I made the mistake of telling our new superintendent this was our 30th year,” said event founder and organizer Jeannie Cline. “I’ve never seen so many people before.”
Keith Greer, the new superintendent suggested Cline advertise early in both the Globe and Payson papers, go on the radio and send a fax to every school in the county, said Cline.
It paid off. The parking lot filled to overflowing. The basketball court/auditorium had one of its walls rolled up to allow guests to flow outside where the car smashing, a witch catapult and haunted house kept the party going.
Chris Cline, who owns Four Peaks Towing in Tonto Basin donated an abandoned car on which kids could sledge hammer out their aggression.
“The kids go home tired, I want them to wake up in the morning sore” he said with a chuckle. “For just four tickets they can bang on the car until they tire out.”
Inside, organizers had a room for decorating pumpkins.
Little Layla Sopeland, 3, decorated her pumpkin with feathers and glitter and gave the photographer one of those “if looks could kill” stares.
Her mom, Lacey, said she has attended every festival — but was shocked to learn that totaled 30 years worth of candy. “This is the biggest one I have seen — it’s been 30 years? Well, I’m 31 so I must have gone to all of them,” she said.
Organizers also had a costume contest. One family dressed up as characters from “The Wizard of Oz,” including the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, Toto, even the house with the witch’s legs sticking out.
Mostly people dressed up the event with their smiles as they watched the little kids take huge bites of candy apples and hot dogs.
All proceeds from the event went to replace 30-year-old playground equipment. The community rallied to help, with food donated by Safeway, the Tonto Basin Marketplace, Big Daddy Pizza and the Butcher Hook. The VFW and local churches ran booths and local businesses and groups donated enough to fill 230 grab bags of candy, said Cline.
“All those things meant Halloween to me,” she said.