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Gambier Halloween party may have to give up the ghost

Gambier Halloween party may have to give up the ghost

By Henri Gendreau

The halls of the Gambier Community Center may echo this year with the sounds of “Monster Mash” for the last time. After 27 years, the organizers of the Village of Gambier’s Halloween party might not be able to continue with the party.

Citing dwindling attendance, Clerk-Treasurer Mary Samuell, who has planned the party since its early days, said this year might be the last for the Gambier tradition.

“It just keeps getting smaller and smaller,” Samuell said. “I just want to be sure that it’s not like something that nobody really is that interested anymore, that they only come because there’s nothing else to do.”

The Village’s Fall Newsletter asked citizens to submit their input on the future of the party, noting that, “in the last few years the attendance has been getting lower and lower.” Last Halloween’s weather may have impacted attendance when hayrides were canceled due to rain, and this year that fate may be repeated.

Assistant Clerk-Treasurer Kathi Schonauer said the Village has not yet received any feedback yet from residents as to whether the party should go on.

While Samuell said she would be “happy to pass it along to somebody else,” she added, “It’s hard to say, ムOh, here’s this party, but hardly anybody comes.'”

This lack of attendance underscores a shifting demographic in the Village of Gambier. Four percent of the Village population is under 18, according to the 2010 U.S. census, compared with 24 percent nationwide. Over the years, Samuell said she has seen attendance drop from 200 to around 50.

This shift has required a bit less work for members of the Archon Society, Kenyon’s co-ed Greek organization, which has traditionally helped with entertaining kids at the party.

“We’re not doing too much by way of organizing it ourselves,” Archon Co-President Mia Barnett ’15 said. “We’re just trying to help out where we’re needed there.” Barnett was surprised to learn that it may be the party’s last year, and hoped that some group or individual would be able to continue the festivities.

“I think it’s not a lack of interest, it’s just they’re getting older,” she said of Gambier children. “I’d say if only 10 kids keep coming, we’d love to help with it just because there’s still that need to have something on Halloween.”

Jeremiah Denuit, who works in the Village Maintenance Department, has been bringing his twin sons to the party for the past three years.

“I think it’s become a tradition for many families,” said Denuit, who hasn’t noticed a considerable lack of attendees, but acknowledges that “there’s still a handful of young children here, but a lot of them are getting older.”

But even retaining these older children has become difficult, Samuell noted.

“The age groups keep getting younger and younger who come to the party,” she said. “I used to have middle school kids that would come to this party and now rarely ever do I have any middle school [kids].”

Samuell hopes to get input from villagers at the party itself, and that even a small number of die-hard fans would bring the party back to life.

“If only 10 kids came and they said, ムThis is the greatest thing in the whole world,’ I’d keep it for 10 kids,” Samuell said. “I’d just tell the Archons, ムYou know, you might not need that many volunteers; it won’t be that big.'”

Still, Samuell sees the party as one of the many ways the Village has provided for the community at large in recent years.

“I think the Village does a good job of [trying] to really engage the community,” she said. “Our Village Council is trying to make us a community, not just a place to live.”

The Village of Gambier Halloween party will be held tonight from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Gambier Community Center.

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