"Usually the students dress up in costumes, but this year we're doing something completely different," noted Doyle Elementary's secretary, Linda McIntosh. "We're having a fall festival."
Doyle Elementary Principal Mellisa Heath said after speaking with the staff at the beginning of the year, they decided to try something new in place of the regular costumes and treats for Halloween.
Apparently Doyle Elementary is moving with a national trend. According to trend spotters at American Greetings, in celebrating Halloween, some families now prefer a more seasonal approach to festivities.
On average, 55 percent of Americans decorate their homes for Halloween (second only to Christmas). Of these, 44 percent decorate for both fall and Halloween, American Greetings reports. This statistic shows that Halloween is no longer a one-night event but an entire season of celebration. The trend, dubbed "Falloween" by some, is the marriage of fall and Halloween, and typically lasts from early September until Thanksgiving.
While many area schools continue to hold their Halloween parties, some other area schools are also getting into the spirit of "Falloween."
For the past seven to eight years, Portageville Elementary has held a fall festival instead of Halloween parties for students prekindergarten through fourth grade.
"Some of the churches were not into Halloween with the scary costumes and things so we decided to go into a fall celebration," recalled Sandra Mudd, Portageville Elementary principal.
Prior to the fall festival, the students would dress up and parade through town, Mudd said.
"It became an issue when a few of the kids' parents who didn't want their children to celebrate this way. So rather than put pressure on the kids and their families to participate, we created a fall festival," Mudd explained. During the festival, students roam from station to station in a allotted times. One station may be games and relay races, Mudd said. Another station may be face painting, some type of apple or gourd bowling or something with pumpkins like a floating pumpkin pond, she noted.
"It works well to move the students through the stations. If it's a pretty day, we can do the entire festival outside," Mudd commented.
At Portageville Elementary, the festival is an all-afternoon event that ends with the high school choir singing to the elementary students in the gym, Mudd said.
Just because the festival is geared to fall doesn't mean students won't find a little jack-o-lantern or spider rings anywhere, Mudd assured.
During their first fall festival, Doyle Elementary students grades prekindergarten through second will participate in various activities from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Friday. These activities include sack decorating, pumpkin face designing, local Retired Senior Volunteer Program clowns, story telling from East Prairie High School's performing arts class, a hot dog stand, games and a tour of the Air Evac Life Team helicopter.
Doyle Elementary's fall festival has nothing to do with religious reasons, insisted Heath who worked for the Portageville School District before joining East Prairie's district this year. The staff just wanted something where the parents could be involved and would want to come help, she said.
Approximately 60-80 parent-volunteers are expected to work at six to seven different stations during the festival, Heath said.
Mudd also said community support has been positive in Portageville.
"Parents like the fact that we're trying to get away from Halloween, especially the scary aspect of it," Mudd explained. "Our celebration is geared more toward farming, harvesting and changing of the seasons -- it's more than the bogeyman."