Boo-Fest moves from square to increase space, safety level

Posted October 24, 2018 at 8:40 am

The seventh annual “Boo Fest” in downtown Albany will return again in 2018 on Halloween night, but cannot exactly be termed Boo Fest on the Square this year.

The only major change in the activities which bring vendors and trick-or-treaters and their families to one central and safer location, is the area in which the event is set to take place this year.

In years past, Boo Fest has been held around the courthouse, primarily on Jefferson Street on the southwest side.

However, due to the increasing number of participants and to help make the event safer by keeping children away from main, primary streets, the Albany City Council recently voted to allow the event to be changed to the West Cumberland Street area between the Foothills Festival building and First Baptist Church.

The event, which began as a memorial to Aleigha Duvall, a young local girl who was tragically killed in a Halloween night accident a few years ago, is meant to be a means for trick-or-treaters to be able to collect all the treats they want in a centralized location and have fun at the same time.

Shana Honeycutt, an aunt of Aleigha Duvall, told the Clinton County News in a written statement about the event just how much the community’s support of the Boo Fest project means to them.

Boo Fest is to honor our princess Aleigha Duvall by providing a safe place for children to Trick or Treat.

Since 2012 Boo Fest has had an abundance of support from the City of Albany, our community. This support has grown over the years and that is what has made this event successful. Last year was the greatest success so far with more than 20 vendors and estimated over 2000 people came out to enjoy BOO Fest.

This year we moved our location from the square to the Foothills parking lot to ensure the safety of our children.

“Boo Fest provides a safer environment where you can stop at one place and instead of going house to house. The city police, as well as the sheriff’s department, do random checks throughout the evening and there is ample parking with sidewalks and cross walks.

“We would like to invite you to join us to honor Aleigha Duvall Halloween night! Participation is welcome for individuals, groups, organizations, churches, businesses wishing to pass out treats in a safe environment. You may decorate a table or trunk to pass out treats for our children. Trick or Treat hours are 5-8, but we are asking that you are set up early. If you chose to decorate your vehicle you would be required to leave your vehicle in the parking lot until 8 so that there is no danger for our children. Hope you’ll come out and join the fun!”

Participation in Boo Fest on the square has grown in numbers so much over the years, that it prompted organizers to move the location for primarily safety precautions for children and adults who take part.

In 2016, over 660 children, not to mention accompanying adults and adult family members, crowded the streets for the festivities, which has seen events other than just normal trick-or-treating added almost on an annual basis.

What began as a small downtown event from only a handful of vendors and a couple of hundred or so participants has steadily grown over the years.

Anyone wishing to set up a vendor outlet, including individuals, groups, organizations, school groups, businesses and others are welcome to set up a space.

There is always plenty of space for parking next to sidewalks and this year, the parking lots surrounding the church and Foothills building, as well as parking spaces on the square, can all be used.

Aleigha’s tragic death prompted both the city and county governments to adopt the “Little Princess” resolution to memorialize her memory and urge Halloween safety. The resolution was adopted in 2012, just prior to the first Boo Fest being organized.

The resolution adopted by the City of Albany states:

“…..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…”

Also in October each year, purple ribbons are placed on business doors and windows in Albany in her memory. Purple was Aleigha’s favorite color.

The event was the brainchild of Shana Honeycutt, the child’s aunt, her mother Misty, Frankie Hickman, Lonnie Duvall and Robert Blake, who requested local officials to do a memorial in her memory.

Throughout the years, the downtown event has been organized, with help from the aforementioned persons, by councilwoman Tonya Thrasher and City Clerk Melissa P. Smith.

Other than your basic trick-or-treating, there will be plenty of other fun activities for children and adults alike, many which were added just last year, including hot chocolate available to all who attend and games for the kids.

Volunteers are welcome and new ideas are always considered. You may contact Melissa Smith at city hall 387-6011 text or call Tonya Thrasher 688-0194 or Shana Honeycutt at 688-2456 for more information.