By ALISSA SCOTT
Three generations of parade-goers watched from the sidelines as children ran into the street to pick up tossed candy during the 9th annual Halloween Parade Saturday.
Jane Papura, 70, watched as the Amsterdam High School majorettes marched by.
“I used to be a Majorette, you know,” Papura said. “Oh yeah. I’ve been coming to these parades ever since then.”
Papura’s grandchildren scurried into the street as another float drove by, its occupants throwing handfuls of Twizzlers and Tootsie Rolls to onlookers. Chants from the Amsterdam Marching Rams could be heard from any point along the parade’s route.
“It’s just amazing,” Papura said, reaching for her granddaughter Natalie Papura, 4, who dressed up as Minnie Mouse for the parade. “It’s just beautiful. The community spirit is just great.”
An estimated 7,000 people either lined Guy Park Avenue or marched in the parade that afternoon -- the highest number of participants the Elks Lodge has seen since it took over the event nine years ago.
Both community members and out-of-towners gathered from Evelyn Avenue to Wall Street, scores donning costumes along with their dogs.
The crowds dressed up as cartoon characters, animals, ghouls and princesses, each waiting eagerly with arms stretched and candy bags wide open.
Lodge No. 101 Chairman Brian Gustas said the parade brings people together each year.
“Everybody’s down there having a great time,” Gustas said.
Gustas said though the event is “all about the kids,” the organizers, who have been working since June, enjoy themselves, too.
“We have just as much, or more fun than the participants,” Gustas said. “We really do.”
This year, the Elks dressed up as nuns with Robert Reidy, an elder elk, dressed as the Pope.
Float participants included: The Amsterdam police and fire departments, PAV Color Guard,
WCSS radio, the Elks Lodge, the Knights of Columbus, Miss Fonda Fair and her court, GAVAC, several politicians, each of the Greater Amsterdam School District schools, local girl and boy scouts, the Renegade Riders, the Amsterdam Free Library, The Recorder, St. Mary’s Hospital, Liberty ARC, Montgomery County SPCA, the Amsterdam Little Giants and its cheerleaders, Amsterdam High School cheerleaders, Capone’s Vault, AHS Marching Rams, Kristy Pollak Christmas Event and Make-a-Wish.
The public was invited to the Elk's lodge on Fourth Avenue for hot dogs, coffee, refreshments and more candy.
Awards for most original, scariest and funniest costume, and a newly added category largest group, were distributed.
State vice president of the Elks Lodge Bill Hayes said there’s one phrase to sum up why the they hold the parade: “Elks share, elks care.”