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Frightfully fun: ‘Booville’ brings organizations, costumed children together at Vancouver Mall

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
10 Photos
James Sharinghousen, a 7 1/2 -foot-tall vampire, menaces shoppers at the Vancouver Mall early Saturday afternoon. Booville, hosted by the Parks Foundation of Clark County and sponsored by iQ Credit Union, brought hundreds of excitedly ghoulish children and their parents to trick-or-treat at the mall.
James Sharinghousen, a 7 1/2 -foot-tall vampire, menaces shoppers at the Vancouver Mall early Saturday afternoon. Booville, hosted by the Parks Foundation of Clark County and sponsored by iQ Credit Union, brought hundreds of excitedly ghoulish children and their parents to trick-or-treat at the mall. (James Rexroad for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Emerging from a thick October fog, a horde of tiny ghouls and monsters descended on the Vancouver Mall late Saturday morning.

Thankfully, each tiny ghoul and monster remained under the careful supervision of their respective parents and guardians, who made sure that only so much damage was done.

With Halloween just a few days away, the Parks Foundation of Clark County and iQ Credit Union helped the mall host “Booville,” a community resource fair at which local nonprofits and organizations gave out candy and treats to families in costume. The event also featured face painting, balloon art, mini pumpkin-decorating stations, a dance performance from the Anavai O Te Ora Nui Tahitian Dance Troupe and more.

“We’re a kids-and-families organization, and this is a kids-and-families kind of event, so it’s almost perfect for us,” said Adrienne Mason, who was a chicken on Saturday but is known professionally as the regional director at Children’s Home Society of Washington. The organization provides child and family counseling, support to LGBTQ+ youth and advice for young parents at resource centers in Vancouver and Washougal.

In addition to handing out candy, Mason said, the event gives her group an opportunity for increased exposure to families who might be in need of their services.

“I table most of our events, but it’s so nice to see families together, smiling,” she said. “We all get to be in costume, which takes away some of the pressure from people wondering who we are and what we do.”

Alongside the Home Society and dozens of other sponsors was a group of student volunteers from Henrietta Lacks High School, who elected to spend their Saturday giving out chips on behalf of Frito Lay and engaging with families.

“We’re mostly here to spend time with the community,” said Emma Ocampo, a senior who helped organize student involvement in Saturday’s event. Ocampo said she had a friend who worked at the Parks Foundation who gave them the tip, and they didn’t hesitate to join in.

“It’s awesome, seeing all the cute little kids,” said another student. “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing.”

And although many costumes were scary, several were objectively cute.

Perhaps chief among them was 8-year-old Kahlay Cleveland, who zipped from table to table dressed as an astronaut equipped with his very own spaceship. The ship — handcrafted with the help of his mother, Ebony Cleveland — featured color-changing lights around its edges, so as to keep other nearby trick-or-treaters aware of Kahlay’s proximity.

“We always try to do something that involves crafting. It took probably three or four days of serious, focused work. Last year, he was a happy meal box,” Cleveland said, laughing at the noticeable trend in her son’s costume designs.

Given the care that goes into the creation of a costume like Kahlay’s, Saturday’s event also provides children an early opportunity to show off their costumes before the official holiday on Monday — all while dry and warm indoors.

“Halloween’s on a Monday this year, so this gives us something to do together as a family on a Saturday,” said Adrian Peña, a father dressed as anime ninja Naruto. “Plus, the kids get a chance to wear their costumes more than once.”

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