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Oak Park parade draws 300 children, Halloween-loving adults

Molly Carter with her son Flynn and his friend Carly Somberg, 4, wave to the fire truck leading Oak Park's annual Halloween Parade in the Hemingway District Saturday morning.  |  Jon Langham/For Sun-Times Media
Oak Park's annual Halloween parade makes its way up Oak Park Avenue from Pleasant with hundreds of costumed participants Saturday morning.  |  Jon Langham/For Sun-Times Media
Parents and kids with costumes marched down the middle of Oak Park Avenue during Oak Park's annual Halloween Parade in the Hemingway District Saturday morning.  |  Jon Langham/For Sun-Times Media
Regina Waldrop flashes her Mona Lisa smile during Oak Park's annual Halloween Parade in the Hemingway District Saturday morning.  |  Jon Langham/For Sun-Times Media
Visiting from Portland, Oregon, Susan Otter joins Oak Parker Mike Renst as two mobile cupcakes riding up and down the Avenue. Oak Park sponsored its annual Halloween Parade in the Hemingway District Saturday morning.  | Jon Langham/For Sun-Times Media

Firefighters, Vikings, pirates, vampires, dinosaurs, witches, princesses, superheroes, cowboys and even mice in the cheese gathered in the Hemingway District of Oak Park on Oct. 26.

Guided by a bright-red fire engine and Village President Anan Abu-Taleb, some 300 revelers of all sizes marched along Oak Park Avenue from Pleasant Street to Lake Street a few blocks north, collecting candy and other booty along the way, in the district’s annual Halloween Parade.

“We just wanted to enjoy the weather and see all the fun costumes,” said Kit Kadlec of Oak Park, a teacher at Percy Julian Middle School, who brought his children, Sydney, 3, and Mila, 11 months.

“For kids, this is a great way to do it,” Kadlec added. “We can be out on the street in the morning and not at night. The best thing is getting to see the costumes all the other kids have all at once.”

Sydney, who was dressed as Thomas the Tank Engine, liked a taxicab costume the best.

“The parade was fun,” he said. “We got some candy.”

Nearby, four Oak Park parents — Jeff Roberts, Jen Roberts, Ann Maxwell and Don Rutledge — dressed as exterminators chasing their children, dressed as mice and hiding on a cargo bike carrying a giant rectangular block of cheese.

“Every year as families we do a communal costume,” Maxwell explained. “And the kids all dress alike.”

Yana Maxwell, 4, Sesame Rutledge, 3, and twins Avery and Ian Roberts, 17 months, appeared to enjoy riding in the cheese.

“I like that my costume is fluffy, but I’m glad I’m not a real mouse,” Yana said. “I don’t like being chased by exterminators.”

Rutledge, whom the other parents dubbed the “mastermind” behind the annual costumes, was tightlipped about his creative process, saying only, “I think Halloween is supposed to be a little dark.”

Last year, all but one of the parents dressed as cooks and the children dressed as lobsters in a giant pot, Maxwell said.

“We like to be a little theatrical,” she said. “Last year I was a protester running after them yelling, ‘Save the lobsters.’” It’s fun. We really like it. The kids love being in the parade and getting candy.”

Regina Waldroup, of Oak Park, brought her 2-year-old daughter Maya Mendell for the second straight year. Maya declined to comment but Waldroup, dressed in full makeup with a giant frame around her head, was eager to explain her costume.

“Halloween is my favorite holiday,” she said. “I start shopping for costumes in July or August. I looked for the hottest costumes this year and ordered this one online. I’m Mona Lisa. It got the best reviews, so I’m like, ‘I’m buying it.’”

Waldroup and Maya, who was dressed as a flower, happened to run into Maya’s former preschool classmate Laney Jewell, 3, who was strolling with her mom, Amy Jewel of Oak Park.

“The parade was good, because we got treats,” Laney said. “I liked the ghost best, because it looked scary.”

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