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Safe Trick-or-Treat draws largest crowd ever

Dracula cruised down Third Avenue along side his "ghoul" friend last night. On the sidewalk ahead of him, a couple of monsters with freaky faces and a devil with a little forked tail prowled the night as well. Amazingly, none of these creatures took note of a chocolate chip cookie that passed them.

The assortment of ghosts, witches, pumpkins and princesses were area children taking part in the annual Safe Trick-or-Treat and Halloween parade, sponsored by the Ironton Business Association.

"It's the biggest crowd ever," Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary -- dressed as a local government official -- said. "We prepared for 2,000 kids, and I think we may run out."

Such a prediction didn't come as a surprise to downtown merchants.

Teresa Hunt, manager of the Grandview Outlet Second Warehouse, said she and her assistant, Julie Alister, had filled a large tub with candy four times before the parade started at 7 p.m.

Kandee Hamilton, assistant manager of the Dollar General Store, said she and her employees had handed out an estimated $60 worth of goodies.

"But I love it," Hamilton said. "I think it's great the way the kids love to show off their outfits. I like to help with the community. I think this is a great family atmosphere."

Costumes ranged from hideous masks favored by older kids to ballet gear, elaborate costumes and miniature floats.

Five-year-old Shelby Dalton of Ironton was dressed in a diaphanous "I Dream of Jeannie" costume and sat nodding and blinking at people as her parents pulled her along on a gold lame and fringe float. Behind her was her genie bottle, decked with faux stones.

"It took us about two weeks to get it made," her mother, Ginger Dalton, said. "It took three people to make it. Her dad made the bottle, my sister helped decorate it and I did the rest."

Christian Hicks, 15 months old and dressed like a baby elephant, was pulled along in a circus wagon by his mother, Amanda Sanborn.

"I saw the wagon at the Disney Store and liked it," Sanborn said.

Throughout the crowd of candy seekers, a delegation of goblins from the Ironton Lion's Club Haunted Tunnel passed out flyers, inviting people to spend an evening of fun with them.

When it was time for the parade, the assembly of vampires, fairies, Lion King cubs and dalmatian puppies fell into line behind the Ironton High School Marching Band at the Center Street Fountain.