Halloween Spooktacular returns for 33rd year

Halloween Spooktacular returns for 33rd year

Published Oct. 18, 2014 in SanTan Sun News

The City of Chandler is offering a safe alternative to trick-or-treating with the 33rd annual Halloween Spooktacular from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, at the Downtown Library Plaza, 125 E. Commonwealth Ave.

More than 1,200 are expected to converge on the plaza, which will also host a costume contest, according to City of Chandler Recreation Coordinator for Special Events Stephanie Feldaverd.

The contest will be split into different age categories—0 to 4-years-old, 5 to 7 years old, 8 to 10 years old and 11 and older. There is also a category for the best overall family costumes.

“Last year we had a group come out as ‘Hook,’” she says of the different characters from the movie “Hook.”

A first- and second-place prize will be given to the best boy and girl costumes for 0 to 4 years old; best superhero, cartoon character, best princess and scariest costumes in age groups 5 to 7 and 8 to 10. The best overall costume will be given for participants 11 years old and older.

The evening will be filled with different events, which are free or available for a nominal charge. For haunted house fans, there will be an attraction organized and designed by Teens Actively Serving Chandler.

Five City departments will provide trunk-or-treat for the youngsters. A souvenir photo opportunity and frame to capture this year’s memories will be offered for $3. Face painting will be $1. Feldaverd says the money raised will go to the Mayor’s Youth Commission.

A pumpkin patch with 250 pumpkins will be part of this year’s Halloween Spooktacular, with families allowed one pumpkin. Kids will have the opportunity to paint their pumpkins and leave them to dry before heading home.

An array of eight carnival games will fill the plaza, as well as an assortment of other interactive games and arts and crafts.

A new game offered this year is the Witch’s Broom Race. Feldaverd says participants will use a broom to push a pumpkin down a designated path around a witch’s broom and back to the starting line. She says only five participants will compete at one time in different age groups.

“The winner will receive candy,” she says.

A cupcake walk and pumpkin bowling are other games the youngsters can participate in this year. Participants will receive a Halloween cupcake when they end up on a certain number when the music stops.

The Chandler Lions Club will have refreshments, drinks and snacks for sale at the event.

For more information, call the Chandler Special Events Hotline at (480) 782-2735 or visit http://www.chandleraz.gov/default.aspx?pageid=605.


Dreams do come true

Today was simply amazing, there is no other word to describe the day as a whole.

After walking out of the Bristol Herald Courier I could not help but smile. As soon as I sat down in my car I instantly sent Jason and mom the same text because they are my biggest supporters.

Wow, I’m beyond excited to join another paper as a reporter.

I spent about an hour and a half at the paper for my orientation this morning. I was introduced to countless people who were incredibly nice. One woman said she has been with the paper for 44 years, which to me only speaks volumes of the company. Everyone offered a helping hand if and when I needed assistance. They all made me feel incredibly welcomed and all shared what seemed like a genuine excitement about me joining the team.

The best part was saying “see you tomorrow” when I was leaving.

I have to admit I was reluctant at first to the idea of moving to Tennessee away from everything and everyone I know. The more Jason and I talked, two years to be precise, the more I eventually jumped on board. Jason believed in us, he believed our dream of making a home would be fulfilled in Tennessee.

My emotions were sky high once I returned home, I was bursting at the seams of what I have accomplished. I had to share my excitement, which was sent through text since Jason was working a double. I shared how much I love him and how grateful I am that we took that leap of faith. Our dream of finding a new place to live, a place we can call home, is no longer a dream, it’s a reality. This area is us … all because the outdoor adventures are endless.

It brings tears to my eyes to think of the struggles we had once we arrived and how far we have come since. We believed in ourselves and each other. We fought for the reason we decided to move more than 800 miles away from family – making a life and home for ourselves in an area that is absolutely breathtaking – our own outdoor playground so to speak.

Since arriving in Tennessee I have found a way to write for five publications in Florida, four in Arizona and now one in Virginia. That’s pretty exciting to think about!

Now that we both found really good jobs we are beginning to talk about our next home, a house somewhere beautiful between where we both work. A home, not an apartment, a home!

I have grown leaps and bounds since arriving, which is empowering and exciting. I have a man who believes in me, pushes me and supports me, by my side … which makes anything possible.

My love for this man runs incredibly deep. I hope he knows just how much he means to me. He has taken the time to get to know me, really get to know me, which has made our transition easier here in Tennessee.

Dreams do come true …you just have to grab a hold of the vision and take the steps to make it happen no matter how scary it may seem.

Thank you for everything babe. I could not imagine taking this journey with anyone else.

First interview …

Today I went for my first reporter interview since arriving in NE Tennessee, which I think went pretty well.

Before hitting the road, I gathered the six letters of recomendation that I received from members of the Pine Island community, as well as the PIO from Lee Memorial Health System. These letters were accompanied by my resume and a cover piece of paper displaying all my contact information.  I placed them all in a portfolio, so I could  give it to the editor in which I had an interview with this afternoon.

An interview, which was scheduled last week, occurred because of my persistence with the editor of the paper.
My 30-minute drive to the paper calmed my nerves and allowed me to gather my thoughts, which made me reflect on my career as a journalist.

I left Tennessee and entered Bristol, Virginia in awe of the scenery I continued to pass along the way, which was a beautiful ride to take for an interview.

I spent an hour and a half talking to two editors and the reporter who currently has the position I applied for, the police beat.

As the night editor asked me questions about the stories I have covered I mentioned Pine Island and my job there. He told me he used to live on a mound in Pineland, wow what a small world. The conversation flowed freely as he asked me questions and I answered them. 

I spent quite a long time with the editor as she asked me questions and I explained past responsibilities I had. She told me she was interested in talking to me because of my experience, something she said stood out to her because the other applicants were fresh out of college.

Out of all of my experiences as a reporter, this position will be a completely different beat to cover. Although I have covered car accidents, fires and murders, working solely on those topics have never been my full responsibility.

During the interview the editor asked how I would feel about seeing a dead body … well that would be a new experience for sure. As she talked about what I would be responsible for, I got excited because it is all breaking news stories, topics people generally want to read. A new challenge, which is always good.

This will be a new learning experience for me if I am offered the job. Something new I can hopefully conquer. 
Now the waiting begins as she finishes another interview this week. I have to say I received good vibes from that interview … I left feeling positive.

Maybe a daily newspaper, with daily deadlines, will be my next adventure as a journalist.

It will be different to work a set schedule with the same two days off every week, as well as being the last reporter to leave the office every night.

With my last day at the Eagle taking place in April, the urge to write is becoming extremely strong … this of course only confirms that I found my career path.

So many memories

With only seven days left as the editor of the Pine Island Eagle, (due to the move Jason and I are making to NE Tennessee), the push to find someone to replace me has come full circle. A few applicants have called me to find out the “scoop” of the paper in the last few days. These phone calls made me realize how much I have grown to like the Pine Island community, as well as the paper that I have worked so hard on week after week.

This sweet gal who recently moved from Rhode Island to Southwest Florida called with a list of questions this afternoon after she talked with Val, the executive editor about the position. Her enthusiasm for the possibility of becoming the new editor was contagious, which made me reflect upon the moment I was offered the job 18 months ago.

As her questions were answered and we got to know each other a little more, my excitement for her grew as she became more excited about the job. Although I do not have a final say in who replaces me, I decided to call Val and share the nice conversation we had on the phone.

It’s amazing how much of an impact you can have on a community through writing. On the flip side, it is amazing how much the community can have an impact on you as well.

A woman who I have grown to know since I started at the Eagle, due to her involvement in one of the groups that raises money for the island, showed me so much support tonight. She came up to me and asked if she could have a hug, which of course I provided. That hug was then followed by many incredibly sweet remarks of what I have done with the Eagle. As she wished me luck in my next endeavors and shared how much she was going to miss me, she had to cut it short because her eyes were swelling with tears and she did not want to cry.

Another sweet moment that I will carry with me forever…

The wonderful thing about that moment is another woman soon picked up on who I was and instantly shared her feelings. She said she stopped reading the paper for a good amount of time because she was not happy with it, which she said changed when I began. A paper she did not go out of her way to pick up now makes her excited every week to go and get, so she can read the news of her community.

This community constantly thanks me for the paper I produce, their paper that they love. There is no need to thank me, writing is my passion, finding the stories and creating something for the community to enjoy is not work. It’s simply what I believe any reporter and editor would want to accomplish if they are given the opportunity to make a paper their own.

Overwhelemed is an understatement of how all these people leave me feeling after they share their thoughts and feelings about the paper, as well as about me.

It will be  bittersweet next Friday as I say goodbye to the community I have grown to know through the many articles I have published. There were countless memories made on this little island, many memories with individuals I would not have met otherwise.

What a journey, what a learning experience, what an incredible memory to take with me as we travel to Tennessee, where I hope to again make an impact on the community in which I work.

I am incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work in this island community as their editor and transform their newspaper into something I will always be proud of producing.

It’s amazing that all of these emotions rose with the simple phone call from a hopeful reporter who has applied for my position.

What is there not to love about a profession that provides that much emotion, good emotion?

Wow is all I am left to say.

They’re off

Once I finished dinner, I sat down in front of the computer and took another step towards our future.

I typed many personal cover letters, attached my resume and sent them on to seven different newspapers in the Tri-City area.

Everytime I hit the send button, a smile crossed my face as I checked one more newspaper off my list. It was incredibly uplifting to offer my resume to that many publications in the hopes I can further my career with at least one of them.

There are always opportunities waiting at your fingertips, which is why I am reaching out to see what will be my next.

I cannot wait to follow up with phone calls in the next few weeks to further show my interest in becoming a new member of another newspaper team.

My day could not of ended on a higher note!

A glimpse of my impact

The last few days I have revamped my resume as I updated it with my latest journalism jobs, improved the wording and changed the style. This document, which made me proud of my accomplishments, will soon be sent to newspapers of our new destination.

While working on my resume, it made me reflect once again on where I started and how far along I have come. Memories poured out of the words that appeared before me as the descriptions of my duties brought me back to the time and place of that particular job, making me remember stories, people and co-workers I have had the opportunity to work with.

This morning I stopped by my executive editor’s office to share a little more about my move, as well as discuss details about my departure. As we caught up on each other’s life, my appreciation for this woman increased as she told me she would take care of me and wished me the best on my journey. The more we talked the more she shared her excitement for my new adventure.

As the economy affected the newspaper over the past few years, this woman always found a position for me within the company, so I could continue my passion of writing.

It will definitely be a bitter sweet goodbye when that final day comes as I walk away from my newspaper that I have become so proud of, as well as my editors who have recognized my hard work and shared wonderful compliments.

As I drove from the Cape Coral office to my office, I began brainstorming who would be so kind to write a letter of recommendation. Within an hour, my first letter appeared in my mailbox, which almost brought me to tears as I read how much of an impact I have had on this little community.

beaconThe executive director of the Beacon of H.O.P.E. truly touched me with what she wrote.

“We will be at a loss to replace her, but I am confident that she will be an asset in any endeavor she attempts,” she explained in this letter addressed to whom in may concern.

I have truly enjoyed writing about this non-profit organization that began shortly after Hurricane Charley devastated the area. Over the years, this incredible island organization has provided countless programs, which are still increasing and improving, to help island residents young to old excel in life. As I wrote articles for the Beacon, I formed a friendship with the executive director and never left the room without sharing a hug.

“She would arrive on time for any event as requested, with a smile and a curiosity to really understand what was happening. Her writing was articulate and accurate and spoke well of our community,” she continued.

One of my favorite parts of being a journalist is conducting the interview because I love finding out why people do what they do. I love digging into the subject and finding out the story behind that particular subject.  Whenever I wrote an article for the Beacon, this woman always directed me to the right person to interview and was always happy to share the history of how a particular program began.

“Meghan has been the editor of our local paper, The Pine Island Eagle, and has functioned in this role with enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism,” she wrote.

The compliments continue through the many paragraphs that grace this letter of recommendation. I am incredibly proud of these words and look forward to pass them on to the jobs in which I apply for in the very near future.

Although I am walking away from this editor position to further my career, I will never forget all the wonderful memories that were created on this little island in Southwest Florida. I will always hold these compliments close to my heart as I strive to improve my writing and path in this amazing career.

I never imagined that a career as a journalist could be so rewarding and so touching. What an amazing journey these past 16 months have been.

I truly believe the best way to get to know a community is through being a reporter because of the rapid pace in which you learn about the area and what it has to offer. This community welcomed me with open arms and provided me with an incredible learning experience as I tackled being an editor for the first time.