By AMY WENGER
Let it never be said that the town of Wakarusa doesn’t know how to celebrate the splendor of autumn.
In fact, the tradition of welcoming the fall season has been a part of the community for more than six decades, spanning multiple generations and endless memories. This year’s event, with the downtown pumpkin tree serving as a centerpiece, will be held on Thursday. The fanfare gets under way at 7 p.m. and concludes at 9 p.m.
Among the features that will be offered are a cake walk, hayrides, goodie bags, children’s games and cotton candy. The popular costume contest will also take place, with categories including animals, sports and service heroes, superheroes and cartoon characters, movie/television entertainers and pop singers, ghosts/witches and all things scary, miscellaneous and entrants age 15 and older.
In the event of inclement weather, the festivities will be relocated to the gym at NorthWood Middle School. The date and centrally situated location were chosen largely in part for convenience, as Friday, Oct. 19 is a vacation day for Wa-Nee students.
Wakarusa’s fall party origins date back to 1951, when Harry Truman was the nation’s president, television was still a luxury item, and the notion of “rock and roll” was still in its infancy.
That was also the same era during which a young doctor named Robert Abel returned to his hometown with his wife and children, making preparations to start his new medical practice. Dr. Abel is credited with originating the town’s first family oriented event to coincide with the observance of Halloween.
Dr. Abel will also be on hand to assist with hosting duties this year, doling out smiles and greetings along with free doughnuts and cider.
Among the local businesses and sponsors who’ve collaborated for this year’s event are Shortstop Inn, Interra Credit Union, Wakarusa Family Chiropractic, Rieth-Rohrer-Ehret-Lienhart Funeral Home, Provident Tool and Die Inc., Horizon Transport, Wakarusa Convenience Store, New to You Consignment Shop, Wakarusa Pro Hardware, Cook’s Pizza, Waky U-Store, Dr. Weldy’s Associates, Schwartz Electric, Hess Insurance and Realty, Countryside Insurance, Dru’s Jewelry, J and N Stone, and Larimer Furniture.
For more information, contact the Wakarusa Chamber of Commerce at firstname.lastname@example.org. More details and updates can also be found at the Chamber’s website, www.wakarusachamber.com or via their Facebook page, “Wakarusa Chamber.”