ROCK ISLAND -- This year's month-long Pumpkin Extravaganza at the Quad City Botanical Center culminated Sunday on a blazingly sunny, crisp fall day with the not-so-scary Monster Mash.|
The festive fourth-annual event included a costume contest, candy hunt, arts and crafts in the outdoor canopy, Miller's Petting Zoo and awards for the best scarecrows as voted by visitors all month.
"We just thought it'd be fun, something cool," said Christine Bozarth of Davenport, who won the scarecrow-making contest with her daughter Jillyan, 11. There were 32 entries displayed this month in the gated garden outside the center.
Their winning scarecrow (filled with real hay) was dressed as a clown using items all purchased at Davenport Goodwill, Ms. Bozarth said. On Sunday, Jillyan -- dressed as a colorful clown -- also entertained other kids by making balloon animals, a skill she learned this summer at the Quad City Clown Troupe offered by Davenport Parks & Recreation. She also has performed at area nursing homes.
"Clowning around is really fun," Jillyan said, noting she also does magic tricks and makes little dogs out of beads. "You get to make a bunch of cool balloon animals. There are places you can go, clown around, and make other people happy. I go a lot of places."
Ms. Bozarth and her daughter, who did the Monster Mash for the first time this year, typically come to the center a few times a year.
"It's just a nice place to visit. They always have great activities for kids," Ms. Bozarth said.
Lisa Summers, of Rock Island, has a family membership since her mother works at the center. On Sunday, she watched her costumed kids play with the wide variety of animals in the petting zoo.
"The kids love it," she said of 6-year-old son Sean (dressed as Captain America), 4-year-old Zoe (Snow White), 5-year-old David (Batman) and 8-year-old Alyssa (Frankie Stein). "They got balloon animals, got to make monster bags."
Shanna Smith, of Moline, and her husband, Chris, have taken their three children to other area Halloween events such as Fright Night in The District and Country Corner in Alpha. On Sunday, they were checking out the Monster Mash.
Their 2-year-old twins, Everett and Georgana, were costumed as Batman and Wonder Woman, with 3-year-old Jackson as Spider-Man.
"They loved the petting zoo. I was impressed," Ms. Smith said. "I haven't been here in a few years. We've been busy having babies." She's expecting another baby in January.
Several Augustana College students volunteered to help with Sunday's activities.
"They help us out all year round," said Beth Peters, the center's visitor services coordinator. "We have a really great relationship with Augustana."