Halloween parade to focus on the kids

The Ashland Chamber of Commerce will divide kids and adults in this year's Halloween parade, after hundreds of costumed adults marched in the parade last year and scared the children, chamber officials said.

Children and their parents will march first in the annual parade, which begins at 3 p.m. Sunday at the corner of Gresham and East Main streets. Adults, whose attire "must be appropriate for a family audience," will march behind the children.

"Last year there were many adults that were dressed in things that scared the children," said district Superintendent Juli Di Chiro, an ex-officio member of the chamber's board of directors. "It was a little co-opted by adults."

Because of last year's disturbances, the chamber's board of directors briefly discussed canceling the parade this year, before deciding to emphasize that it is a children's parade, Di Chiro said.

"We really just want to showcase the kids and make sure that it's a kid-friendly event," said Katharine Flanagan, marketing director for the chamber. "So we're going to put the kids in front and the kids at heart can go behind the children."

The parade ends at 4:30 p.m. at the Plaza. Children can trick-or-treat at downtown businesses following the parade.

For the first time this year, there are rules for parade participants. Participants' costumes cannot include nudity, profanity, lewdness, illegal drugs, violence, obscenity, racism or offensive content, according to the chamber.

Parade marchers also are prohibited from smoking or using devices with flames, such as torches, flame throwers or lanterns, or from using explosive devices, such as firearms and fireworks. Drugs and alcohol also are prohibited at the parade.

Participants who violate the rules of the parade may not be allowed to march.

Unlike last year, the chamber has hired four security guards to help with crowd control. The guards and parade officials will walk in front of the children during the parade, Flanagan said.

Because the parade will be on a weekend and during the last day of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2010 season, parade officials expect thousands of locals and visitors to attend, Flanagan said.

"Last year it was on a Saturday and there were a lot," she said. "It's just such a popular event."

Last year, a few thousand people marched in the parade and many more stood on East Main Street to watch it, Flanagan said.

People who want to walk in the parade should arrive at the corner of Gresham and East Main streets at 3 p.m. to line up. A divider will separate the children and their parents from the adults until the parade starts.

The parade route and surrounding streets will be closed to vehicle traffic between about 2:30 and 5 p.m. Chamber officials hope adults will refrain from taking over the parade this year, but will still enjoy marching in costume, Flanagan said.

"Halloween is such a fun holiday for all ages," she said. "It showcases our creative community and brings out the artistry and creative expression here."

For more information on the parade, see www.ashlandchamber.com.

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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