by Jenny Frankl
For the fourth consecutive year, Halloween night transformed the Rainier Beach Safeway’s parking lot into a family themed fright fest attracted a flood of South End trick-or-treaters.
As in years past, Tuesday’s Rainier Beach Boo Bash brought out ghouls and goblins of all stripes from around the community.
Alexis Eder, a member of Rainier Beach High School’s Cheer Squad and a Boo Bash volunteer since the event began in 2014, said she was shocked at the huge attendance.
“It gets better every year,” said Alexis. “Every year it grows and grows. It shows how amazing our community really is. We’re a family.”
Boo Bash organizers originally anticipated a crowd of 5000 people. It only took a couple of hours for it to become evident that figure would be dwarfed.
“It was just incredibly rewarding to see 6000 people experiencing so much fun,” said an enthused Cindi Laws, Boo Bash founder and lead organizer. “We had a much wider array of entertainment and activities, which inspires me to create even more next year.”
Some of these additions included free haircuts from Joseph’s Elite, bike helmet giveaway from Bikeworks, and free flu shots from Safeway. The new activities geared toward the younger kids this year were also a big hit. They included storytelling by award-winning children’s book author JL Cheatham II, magic tricks and balloon artistry by local magician and comedian, Ruben Barron, and a lively stage full of dancing, music, and costume shenanigans.
The energy was palpable as Boo Bashers raced from different stations. “It was a great environment for kids and really brought everyone together,” said first-time Boo Bash attendee, Julian Mason, who came with his mom, wife, and daughter.
Fellow Boo Bash newbie, Josh Kawinski, was excited to discover the event was even happening. “It was a great event for the little ones, especially,” he said, clasping the hand of his four-year old daughter, Lola.
One of Rainier Beach Safeway’s cherished managers and key supporters of the event, Larry Wilmore, mimicked this excitement. “It is great to see Safeway’s customers participate. I love to see the big smiles and kids having fun in a safe environment and it’s nice to see parents in a different light,” Wilmore said.
The increased attendance also resulted in additional camera clicks.
Derek Johnson, a local photographer, hosted a photo booth at the Bash and estimated he had a stead line of “about 20 people long throughout the night.” He added that he took about three times as many photos this year as he did last year.
Also attempting to capture the event with his camera was amateur photographer and Rainier Beach High School student Jeremiah Willis. He said Boo Bash provided him the challenge of photographing the “moments that tend to slip by real fast” in the community.
Whether it was for the candy, costumes, music, dancing, bike helmets, photos, chess with Detective Denise “Cookie” Bouldin, hot chocolate from the Rainier Beach Action Coalition, or just good old fashion connecting with neighbors that drew people there, the event elicited smiles and appreciation.
“It was really satisfying for me to step back for a moment and take in the giant, happy crowd,” said Laws. When she first had the idea in 2014, she was met with healthy skepticism of the size and scope that she was certain the event would one day reach. Judging from this year’s Boo Bash, she’s been vindicated.
For those interested in helping to support this continued neighborhood tradition (or help with some of the shortfall from this year’s event), the Boo Bash organizers are accepting donations through PayPal (BooBashRainierBeach@outlook.com) or via check to Rainier Valley Community Development Fund (6951 Martin Luther King Jr Way S #225, Seattle, WA 98118) attention “Boo Bash”.
Jenny Frankl is a Rainier Beach resident