‘Boo Fest’ 2019 will return Halloween night

Posted October 16, 2019 at 8:48 am

“Boo Fest” 2019 is set to make a return appearance in downtown Albany on Halloween night, Thursday, October 31.

This will be the eighth annual event catered to drawing children and parents to one central and safer location for trick-or-treating, as an alternative to having to travel busy streets and knocking on doors.

The event began as “Boo Fest on the Square” and was a small event for the first few years, while being held primarily on Jefferson Street on the west side of the Clinton County Courthouse.

The popular trick-or-treating event has grown so much over the years that, as of last year, the location was moved to the area of the Foothills Welcome Center parking lot, across from Albany First Baptist Church.

The location change was not only to make room for more visitors and vendors who pass out treats, but a safer area as well, according to primary event organizers Melissa Smith and Tonya Thrasher.

Albany City Council, which backs the event each year as well, has already voted to once again close off West Cumberland Street that runs in front of both the Foothills Building and First Baptist Church, to be used as the areas for vendors to set up.

Vendors handing out free treats to children is by far not the only event that always makes “Boo Fest” a fun family night for children and adults alike. Several activities are always on tap in the area to keep youngsters and the young at heart entertained.

The event began as a memorial to Aleigha Duvall, a young local girl who was tragically killed in a Halloween night pedestrian/vehicle accident several years ago.

Boo Fest has grown in numbers and popularity over the years. For example, in 2016, the estimated number of people who attended the event was around 650 people and in 2018 had grown to over 1,000, possibly as many as 1,200 participants including children and adults.

The number of vendors that pass out treats has also grown over the years and different types of activities such as face painting, bouncy houses, and much more are expected to be on tap again this year.

According to Smith, the First Baptist Church will also be providing free food such as hot dogs and other refreshments at the church across the street from the Foothills Welcome Center.

Set-up for the event will begin at approximately 4:30 p.m. and the event will run until around 8 p.m.

Anyone wishing to set up a spot can bring their vehicles, tents or whatever the case may be to the Foothills Welcome Center and set up without the need for a reservation. However, anyone needing to make a reservation to set up a location in advance can contact Smith at city hall by call 387-6011 or contacting Thrasher.

Both organizers encouraged everyone, including vendors, to come out and participate, noting a lot of events would be going on.

Volunteers for the event are also welcome, along with anyone who has new ideas to make the event even better. To volunteer or for more information, call city hall or Tonya Thrasher at 688-0194.

The event was the original idea of Shana Honeycutt, Aleigha’s aunt, her mother Misty, Frankie Hickman, Lonnie Duvall and Robert Brake, who requested local officials do a memorial in her honor.

In 2012, the City of Albany adopted a Resolution to honor Aleigha’s memory, which reads:

“…that in the memory of Aleigha Duvall…the City strongly 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 should be visible about the child from all directions which would provide said child with a visibility to all motorists and others which may be on the streets and byways…”

Last year, Honeycutt issued a statement about the event and how much community support means to them, saying:

“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 (2017) was the greatest success so far with more than 20 vendors and estimated over 2,000 people came out to enjoy Boo Fest.

“This year we moved our location 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 crosswalks.

“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.

“If you chose to decorate your vehicle you would be required to leave your vehicle in the parking lot until 8 p.m. so that there is no danger to our children. Hope you’ll come out and join the fun!”

Trick or Treat hours set for Halloween

The City of Albany has once again designated official trick-or-treat hours in the city from 5 to 8 p.m. on Halloween night, Thursday, October 31.

Parents and children, both in the city and county, are encouraged to observe these hours.

Also, any household wishing to accept trick-or-treaters on Halloween are asked to leave outside lights on and clear yards and walking areas to the home for the safety of the children.

Motorists, especially in the city limits, are urged to use extra precaution while driving on Halloween night, especially during the designated trick-or-treat hours and watch for children, especially at crosswalks.

Other than door-to-door trick-or-treating, parents may wish to use an alternative, such as taking children to a church, Boo Fest downtown or other areas where treats are handed out to children in one central location.

Have a safe and fun 2019 Halloween!