Costumed characters roam the streets of downtown Burlington during the 2017 Spooky City event. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday morning.

Saturday event includes costume parade, trick or treating at downtown businesses

By Jason Arndt


In downtown Burlington Saturday, there will be no shortage of entertainment, and plenty of candy for children at the 29th annual Spooky City celebration.

Spooky City organizer Shad Branen, owner of Plaza Theater and WIN Media, said the annual event has gotten bigger and better since its inception.

“It has been successful since year one,” he said. “It was developed as a means to promote businesses that are in downtown area.”

The event starting at 9:30 a.m. features a costume parade, free hayrides, trick-or-treating at about 50 downtown businesses, street entertainment and movies for both children and adults.

Children, according to Branen, will have one hour to snag as much candy as possible from participating downtown businesses.

“There are 50 businesses in downtown that are handing out candy, and the heart of what Spooky City is, is trick or treating,” he said.

Courtesy of contributions from Nestles, along with participating businesses pitching in, Branen has always been amazed at how much candy children run away with.

“What is kind of interesting is the amount of candy that we hand out,” he said. “Thousands of pieces of candy, an incredible amount of candy in a short period of time.”

“We will draw in the upwards of thousands into downtown. With all the costumes, the kids and families, it is a great people watching venue.”

There will be plenty of other options to watch, including street performers, like world yo-yo champion Mark Hayward, who appeared on America’s Got Talent and other NBC television shows.

Additionally, a stilt walker plans to venture down Chestnut and Pine streets, greeting visitors.

Members of the Burlington High School juggling club will also showcase their skills on the street.

“We change up the entertainment each year, we have gone in the direction of street performers, so we will have several different entertainers in the street, Pine Street and Chestnut Street is blocked off during trick-or-treating.”

After children finish collecting candy, the Plaza Theater plans to show “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween”. Free tickets, up to four per group, are available beginning Thursday at McDonald’s on Jefferson and Dodge streets.

Later, at 10 p.m., adults have an opportunity watch 1975 classic film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Cost of tickets are $10 per person and available at the door or online at


The day’s events include:

9:30 to 10:30 a.m. – Spooky kick-off featuring Jurassic Park themed activities, including a dinosaur egg toss, face painting and tattoos, at Fox River State Bank.

10:30 a.m. – Costume Parade beginning at Wehmhoff Park.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Free hayrides beginning at McDonalds

11 a.m.- noon – Trick-or-treat at participating downtown businesses displaying the hanging skull.

11 a.m. – noon – Street entertainment, including World Yo-Yo Champion Mark Hayward

11am – Scary Selfie Contest at trick-or-treat locations

12:30 p.m. – Free showing of “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” at Plaza Theater

10 p.m. – Showing of 1975 cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at Plaza Theater


Autumn Rib Festival

The downtown area is not finished, however, as the Autumn Rib Festival will start at noon and run until 5:30 p.m. at Wehmhoff Square.

The Autumn Rib Festival, originally set for Oct. 20, was rescheduled because of unfavorable weather.

Branen believes the change could offer people an incentive to stay in the downtown area.

“Those activities pick right up after Spooky City, so the timing works well, and I think it is a great opportunity piggyback off of each other’s activities,” Branen said.