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Collinsville celebrates Halloween with walk and chili cookout

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The promise of a great bowl of chili and costumes on parade drew a crowd to Downtown Collinsville on Saturday for the annual Halloween Walk and Chili Cook-off.

A costume contest at Miners Theatre kicked off this year's event at 9 a.m. followed by trick or treating at local businesses along Main Street. Booths offered everything from chili to kettle corn, hot dogs, pizza, nachos, brats and banana bread.

The annual event is sponsored by Downtown Collinsville, Inc.

Chairman Sandy Grafe said around 1,200 contestants dressed in Halloween attire for the contest and more than 15 booths entered this year's chili cook-off contest.

According to Shelby Highlander, 5, of Maryville, parading in costume is best done during daylight.

"You can see all the costumes better in the morning," said Shelby, who came with her sister Gabrielle, 8, and brother, Connor, 10, and a friend, Rianne Appel, 8, also of Maryville.

Connor agreed and added that the walk offered one more celebration "before it's actually Halloween - and it can be colder at night."

Gabrielle said the "chili is good" - another draw for the celebration.

Dylan Lane pointed to the largesse of Halloween goodies handed out that included not only candy treats, but a firefighter's badge, comic book, pencil and even a small stuffed animal.

"I also got to see my (Webster Elementary School) principal Mr. (Tom) Tucker and my teacher Mrs. (Jenny) Spurgeon selling T-shirts and pizza," Dylan said.

Tucker said proceeds from the sale of the shirts and sweatshirts highlighting the Character Plus program and pizza sold at the school's booth would be used for the school's activity fund.

But it isn't just children who enjoyed the day.

Judy Falline, of Collinsville, brought her granddaughter, Mindy Smith, 3, whose job was "spreading pixie dust."

"I think everyone enjoys this," she said, "I used to bring my mom up and she always enjoyed just sitting and watching all the kids."

The Halloween Walk and Chili Cook-off also offered some visitors an opportunity to learn more about the community.

"This is nice," said Cynthia Hernandez-De Luca, who brought her sons Nicholas, 2 months, and Robert, 2. "I moved here from California and I don't think I've ever seen the streets closed so families could enjoy the day. I even learned something about Miners Theatre."

Grafe said she plans on expanding next year's festivities with more booths and faire.

"People enjoy it and we had wonderful weather," she said. "We closed the streets this year so it was safer with all the children coming. We had a great crowd."

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