When it comes to the costume contest at Maricopa Trick or Treat, the annual Halloween event sponsored by Church of Celebration, Mat Balgaard, executive pastor, said, “There’s nothing we haven’t seen.”
“Especially the prize winners; they get really creative,” Balgaard said.
This year’s event is 4-8 p.m. Oct. 31 at Pacana Park.
Among the costume contest, rides and more, the goal is to give out 1 million pieces of candy.
Candy donations are still needed and welcome, Balgaard said. Individually wrapped candy can be dropped off 8 a.m.-noon Sunday at the Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center where the church meets.
In the past, entrants have dresses as everything from the crew of “Toy Story” to superhero Avengers.
Even the pastors get in on the fun, often picking a theme and then dressing as a group. They have come as the cast of the movie “Anchorman” and as marathon runners from the 1970s.
“The shorts they used back then were highly inappropriate,” Balgaard said.
Costumes, however, are just part of the event, which has grown in attendance each year. In 2006, 4,000 people attended the event held in the Maricopa Business Center.
Attendance grew to 8,000 people in 2008.
In 2009, the event had grown large enough to move to Pacana Park and by 2010 more than 12,000 people attended, Balgaard said. The attendance for the previous two years has been about the same.
“I think the people in Maricopa really love the opportunity to get together,” Balgaard said.
Festivities include a hay maze, pumpkin patch play area for very young children, a carnival featuring 20 different games and “every bounce house you can imagine,” Balgaard said.Free concessions including popcorn, cotton candy and sno-cones will be available.
Raffle prizes, including gift cards from local stores and restaurants, will be given out on the hour.
The variety of activities is a big draw for community members.
“It’s well-organized with different games and activities and things to do besides just get candy,” said City Councilman Leon Potter. “It’s a chance for families with kids to get together with everyone else.”
The costume contest is divided into four categories: ages up to 5 years old; 6-12; 13 and older; and families. There will be “celebrity judges,” as Balgaard called them. Previous judges have included the mayor and other city officials.
All of the goodies are possible due to a large amount of community support, he said.
“It’s an opportunity for our church to say we really care about the community.”