Campus Corner will commence its Halloween festivities with its annual canine costume contest — inviting guests to an afternoon of candy and doggy dress-up Oct. 25.
Howl-O-Ween encourages pets and people to come in their best costumes to compete in categories such as “Best Family Costume'' and “Best Pet Costume”. This year, Campus Corner vendors will provide pre-packaged bags of candy and coupons, unlike past celebrations when guests trick-or-treated at their respective stands.
Jennifer Dennis, the owner of Othello’s Italian restaurant, said this year’s Howl-O-Ween will be held in the restaurant's parking lot and patio to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“I have been in charge of running Howl-O-Ween in the past … (but I) wanted to make sure we were able to do it this year — keeping in mind COVID-19 and social distancing,” Dennis said. “So I had the idea and brought it up to the board about doing a version of it where we take out the trick-or-treating component and we collect all the goodies from the merchants … so people can come and go.”
Dennis said the Howl-O-Ween costume contest moved online to prevent people from walking around Campus Corner and protect them from prolonged exposure.
A photographer will take pictures of the best-dressed guests and post them on Campus Corner’s Facebook so followers can vote on their favorite outfits. Human winners will receive prizes donated from Campus Corner vendors while canine competitors will win a doggy daycare package.
“(People) always get very creative with the dogs,” Dennis said. “It’s amazing when the whole family dresses up together — the dog, the kids and the parents — and they have a theme. It’s just a lot of fun.”
Although the event will not include its usual supply drives or animal adoptions, it will provide information regarding local animal adoption opportunities.
“We definitely encourage you to adopt from a shelter,” Dennis said. “If someone's looking to adopt (this year), they can always reach out to us, and we can get them in contact with one of these organizations that have pet adoption.”
Dennis said the spacious patio, parking lot and two-hour time slot should allow for people to spread out and celebrate safely. She said attendance this year, for those who feel comfortable, is especially important, as it is a great way to support local businesses amid the pandemic.
“Campus Corner has been hit pretty hard with school closures last year (and) football seasons have taken a big hit,” Dennis said. “So anything we can do to attract more families to Campus Corner and remind them of the different merchants and what's available … I think it is really important to do right now while still keeping social distancing and COVID-19 precautions in mind.”
Dennis said she hopes Howl-O-Ween will create an outlet for families, children and their dogs to enjoy Halloween as they have in pre-COVID years — just in an adjusted format.
“I know people, especially people with kids, are being very cautious when they leave their home,” Dennis said. “We just want to give them a fun way to still be able to celebrate Halloween in this crazy pandemic time.”
Howl-O-Ween will be held from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 25 at Othello’s Italian Restaurant. All guests are welcome, but Dennis said she encourages people to RSVP on the event’s Facebook page so Othello’s staff knows how many attendees to expect.