Ghosts and goblins and ghouls, oh my!

Ghosts and goblins and ghouls, oh my!

These characters and more will be present at the Independence Chamber of Commerce’s 61st annual Halloween parade at 3 p.m. today on the Independence Square. More than 90 parade entries will be featured this year, said Teresa Freeland, the chamber’s special projects coordinator.

“And they keep coming in,” Freeland says, laughing, since the deadline to enter the parade was Oct. 16.

Among the entrants will be Animals Best Friends and Friends of the Shelter; several car clubs; and the Red Hat Tomatoes, a group of women affiliated with the social organization the Red Hat Society.

“They get caught up in it and get all dressed up,” Freeland said.

Jim Denning, the chamber’s 2009 board of directors chairman, will serve as the parade’s grand marshal. Other notable entries include The Reindeer Warriors, a motorcycle club; Centerpoint Medical Center, the parade’s sponsor; several area bands, including the Independence Middle School band and the Van Horn, William Chrisman and Truman high school bands; and a Santa who will ride in a green Cadillac.

Dance clubs scheduled to perform include Studio 3-V Dance Center, Kim’s Dance Company, Cathy’s Creative Dance, TaJazz School of Dance, Xtreme Cheer Allstars and the Fort Osage High School Dance Team.

As one of the chamber’s larger annual community events, the Halloween parade averages between 5,000 and 6,000 attendees, Freeland said. The parade route starts at Pleasant and Walnut streets and continues east on Walnut, north on Main Street, west on Lexington Avenue, north on Spring Street and ends at McCoy Park.

“I enjoy being down in the lineup area because before the parade starts, it’s so much fun to see them meandering around in their outfits,” Freeland said. “That’s what is fun for me. When it kicks off and it starts off up the hill, it’s fun to see it fall in like that.”

First- and second-place trophies will be awarded to floats in commercial and non-commercial divisions. CommunityAmerica Credit Union also will announce the winner of its pumpkin contest Saturday. The participant who guessed the closest weight of a large pumpkin inside HyVee at 23rd Street and Lee’s Summit Road will receive the pumpkin and a $100 savings bond.

Designated Square merchants will sponsor trick or treating between 1 and 3 p.m. prior to Saturday’s parade. Contact the chamber of commerce at 816-252-4745 for more information.

“Have the children come all dressed – and the adults – but particularly the children because the Square merchants really do enjoy that aspect of the parade,” Freeland said.