Halloween ‘Boo Fest’ returning with expanded activities for all

Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:10 am

The Halloween season is practically here again, and “Boo Fest” which is held on the square in downtown Albany, is returning once again with added activities for children and adults alike.

Tragically, the now annual event came out of an accident that occurred some six years ago when a young child having fun taking part in trick-or-treating, Aleigha Duvall, was killed in a pedestrian/vehicle accident on Halloween night.

Since that time, not only the community and the City of Albany honored her memory, but her own friends and family have taken Aleigha’s tragic loss and found a way to help keep other children safe while having fun on Halloween, thus, “Boo Fest” was born, giving all children and parents who want to participate, a chance to do so in a centralized, safe environment.

Aleigha’s tragic death also prompted the city and county to adopt the “Little Princess” resolution to memorialize her memory and urge Halloween safety by participation in what is now referred to as Boo Fest on the square. That resolution was adopted in early 2012 and since the event began, it has grown in both vendor and trick-or-treat participation year after year.

The resolution, which began the Boo Fest, reads in part as follows:

“…the City of Albany is concerned about the health, safety, and welfare of its young citizens;

“…the City encourages its young citizens to enjoy the Halloween Celebration in a safe manner;

*…the City believes that is should remind the parents and caretakers of our youth of certain safety precautions which may help protect our children;

* …be it resolved…that in memory of our beloved Aleigha Duvall…the City strongly suggests and urges parents and caretakers of our future trick or treaters to require some safety measures such as reflective material or other safety equipment such as glow sticks or artificial light which would be visible about the child from all directions which would provide said child a visibility to all motorists and others which may be on the streets and byways…”

That same fall in 2012, the first “Boo Fest” began and each October, purple ribbons began being placed on doors of each business in memory of Aleigha.

Shana Honeycutt, Aleigha’s aunt, said herself and four other people–Misty (Aleigha’s mom), Frankie Hickman, Lonnie Duvall and Robert Brake had the original idea of requesting local officials do a memorial to the young victim.

Over the years, there have been a lot of local support, including from councilwomen Tonya Thrasher and City Clerk Melissa P. Smith, who help organize the event each fall.

The afore named individuals presented the idea to Mayor Nicky Smith and then Judge/Executive Lyle Huff who were in favor of the resolution. The group chose the color purple for the ribbon display because that was Aleigha’s favorite color, Honeycutt noted.

What began as a small downtown event six years ago from only a handful of vendors and a couple of hundred or so participants has steadily grown each year.

According to both Honeycutt and City Clerk Smith, last year there were 15 or more vendors, including groups and individuals that set up truck or treat from vehicles, set up booths and tables, etc and the estimated attendance of children and adults was about 1,000 people.

Jefferson Street has always been the area blocked off for vendors, but at a recent city council meeting, city officials noted the group could expand to broader areas and offer more activities if space is needed.

Honeycutt said some additional plans are still being put together, including showing the “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” during the 5-8 p.m. hours the event is taking place, as well as possibly having a “princess” storyteller at the event to entertain the younger audience.

Plans are also in the works to have some type of photo area where children can have their pictures taken, some other games to be played and providing hot chocolate free to all visitors during the evening.

Both Honeycutt and Smith noted that although there are already several people working on the ideas mentioned, “volunteers are welcome” and new ideas are always considered.

Individuals, groups, organizations, businesses, churches anyone wishing to set up to pass out treats in a safe location is welcome to participate.

Smith said, “I feel like this venue is a lot safer for the children…they do not have to go everywhere else, cross busy streets in traffic and are among plenty of adult supervision, which is another important safety aspect in this day and age.”

Honeycutt echoed the sentiment that children’s safety while having fun was the primary reason for the resolution that was adopted and the Boo Fest event that is held each year…to promote children’s safety on Halloween.

There is always plenty of parking next to the sidewalks, police officers do random checks throughout the evening and Honeycutt noted that in the years the event has been underway, there have been “no incidents” of any type occur.

For anyone wishing to participate in Boo Fest, or for more information in general, they may contact Smith at city hall, 387-6011 or by calling or texting Honeycutt at (606) 688-2456.