From Minions to super heroes to Day of the Dead costumes, the annual Uptown Greenwood Boo Bash, co-hosted by Cornerstone, showcases creativity of adults and children in its popular costume contest.

Thursday’s free event at Uptown Market, 220 Maxwell Ave. in Greenwood will be no exception. Boo Bash starts at 5:30 p.m. and the costume contest begins at 6.

“The costume contest is always a big pull,” said Lara Hudson, Uptown Greenwood manager. “Every year, I think there is no way entries can top what we saw the year before and then they always do. The contest is always huge.”

Participants can also enjoy family-friendly games, prizes, candy and more.

Boo Bash, Hudson noted, is on the same night as the Greenwood YMCA’s annual Fall Festival, and both events draw crowds numbering in the hundreds.

“Moving Boo Bash to the Uptown Market was the right thing to do,” Hudson said. “It gives it more of a fall festival feel. For the last few years, we’ve added games where multiple kids can play at one time, instead of just standing in long lines, waiting to play. There’s a pumpkin patch walk and there are relay races.

“A lot of community organizations come out,” Hudson added. “The Museum, the Arts Center and the Greenwood Library all participate with activities kids can do.”

The City of Greenwood Public Works Department even does hayrides.

“They enjoy that and our fire department and police come out with their vehicles,” Hudson said.

Cornerstone, an area commission on drug and alcohol abuse, has long partnered with Uptown Greenwood for the Boo Bash.

“I think it’s been going on for about 20 years,” said Allen Easler, Cornerstone prevention coordinator. “It’s a family activity without alcohol and drugs. People look forward to this and they absolutely love the costume contest. The creativity people put into it is fun.”

Easler noted Boo Bash coincides with National Red Ribbon Week. It is the oldest and largest drug prevention awareness program in the United States.

According to a United States Government, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) resource website, Red Ribbon Week was started after the death of Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who in 1985 was brutally tortured and murdered by drug traffickers he was investigating in Mexico. As a tribute to Camarena, high school friend Henry Lozano and Congressman Duncan Hunter created “Camarena Clubs” and the wearing of a red ribbon to show their oppositions to drugs.

The 2019 Boo Bash has not one, but three dance groups performing on Maxwell Avenue. Portions of the street will be closed to traffic during that element of Boo Bash.

“We’ve had multiple folks ask about performing,” Hudson said, noting FIYA Dance University, Emerald City Dance Explosion and the Greenwood High School drama team.

Wendi Wimmer, fine arts teacher at Greenwood High School, said she’s been teaching students the iconic Michael Jackson “Thriller” zombie dance routine for performances for about a decade now and she has incorporated this into the newly established fine arts offerings at GHS.

“It’s a great way to incorporate teaching into a performance-based activity that is always a hit in public settings,” Wimmer wrote in an email to the Index-Journal. “Even students who do not find dance easy will get into this movement piece, because it is connected with character development, costuming and makeup...and, who doesn’t like Michael Jackson?”

Students, Wimmer said, immerse themselves in this project, developing their zombie personas, distressing clothing for realistic costuming and practicing theatrical makeup and choreography. This year, Wimmer’s drama students include ones from Greenwood and Emerald high schools.

Last year, GHS students performed their “Thriller” routine during Boo Bash and have been invited to again. Wimmer said many attendees last year took pictures with the costumed zombies.

In addition to costume creativity, Boo Bash is also home to lots of candy and prizes, Hudson said.

“We sugar everybody up and send them on their way,” she said. “Our Uptown merchants still wanted to be involved with Boo Bash when we moved it from the arcades along Main Street and they asked what they could do to help. Merchants help with candy donations. We couldn’t do this without the support of donations, sponsors and the community, as well as volunteers from schools and our city staff.”

Contact St. Claire Donaghy at 864-943-2518