Las Vegas Sun

October 2, 2023

Halloween fans find plenty of ways to scare up a good time

Halloween festivities

Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

Brooklyn Davidovici, 3, selects a twisted lollipop with her mom, Charissa, who owns the Sugar Factory, while taking a break from handing out candy to children and families during their Halloween celebration with the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation at the Sugar Factory in the Mirage.

Updated Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 | 11:32 p.m.

Halloween festivities

Little Miss Pirate Natalie Freer, 3, trick-or-treats during the Halloween celebration for children and families of the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation hosted by the Sugar Factory at the Mirage. Launch slideshow »

Gawking at Komodo dragons, jellyfish, and sharks, hundreds of costumed children piled into the Haunted Reef at Mandalay Bay on Saturday for Halloween candy and thrills.

“No matter how many time she sees it, it’s like she’s never seen it before,” said Nicole Craney, 30, of Las Vegas, about her 3-year-old daughter, Ahmari Culpepper, who was dressed like a ladybug and hanging off the bars in front of the piranha aquarium.

The event was just one attended by Halloween enthusiasts — young and old — in the Las Vegas Valley.

Further down the Strip, at the Mirage, young people and their families whose lives have been touched by cancer trick-or-treated at the Sugar Factory, in an event in conjunction with the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation.

Officials at The District at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson planned to give away more than 500,000 pieces of candy this Halloween. Participants said it was a safe and easy alternative to going door-to-door.

The Town Square mall hosted a similar event, while Metro Police offered another safe alternative, its third annual Trunk or Treat.

And the Strip, of course, was filled with its share of costumed Halloween revelers.

Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef has been putting on its Halloween event for eight years and is geared toward locals, said reef director Adrienne Rowland.

“It’s just the combination of Shark Week and Halloween that seems interesting,” said Kelli Modica of Las Vegas, who was there with her 6-year-old son, Anthony. “We’ve never been here for Halloween.”

As children walked through the reef, they entered a nearly 360-degree view of the shark aquarium. At the end, they entered a shipwreck — an already spooky section of the reef, decked out for Halloween with ghouls and spider webs.

If not scary enough, fake body parts were added to the crocodile and lizard cages and ping-pong balls decorated as eyeballs bobbed in the touch pond full of rays and crabs.

Rowland said she expected about 3,500 to 4,000 people to visit the Haunted Reef before it closes at 10 p.m.

“The kids in costume are my favorite part,” she said. “I have a soft spot for the kids that dress up like sharks.”

Outside, along the Strip, from about a half-dozen men dressed like the Average Joes from the movie “Dodgeball” to the myriad couples with matching king-and-queen get-ups, it wasn’t your average Saturday.

“We’re gonna party, man,” said Gary Stromberg, who is from near Green Bay, Wis., and was dressed like a 1970s hippie. “We’re gonna experience Las Vegas.”

Grant Anderson, 24, of Phoenix, was with his buddy Jeff Mitchell, 25, of Dallas, outside New York, New York.

Anderson was dressed like Jack from the Jack in the Box burger joint. Mitchell, dressed like himself.

“We’re where the party is,” Mitchell said, holding up his hands. “It’s Vegas!”

Susie Blasi of Pratt, Kansas, was hanging out with friends outside Diablo’s Kitchen at the Monte Carlo, a glass of wine and a beer in hand. “We came out last year for Halloween, and we decided to come back,” she said.

Lots of visitors, including Tim McGartland, 33, of Albuquerque, who was dressed like the Big Bad Wolf, and his girlfriend, Jackie Vargas, 30, dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, planned to go to Circus Circus for the Fright Dome.

A huge crowd, meanwhile, waited in line to experience New York, New York’s Zombie Precinct on the replica Brooklyn Bridge.

Others, such as Robin Simoneaux, 55, of Tuscon and her daughter, Megan Simoneaux, 28, just happened to be vacationing this weekend and didn’t bother to dress up.

“I was expecting a little more craziness,” Megan Simoneaux said.

At the Sugar Factory at the Mirage, about 150 children and their families trick-or-treated amid the rock candy and chocolates and other treats, gleefully snatching up popcorn balls and colorful, gourmet suckers.

After her mother died of ovarian cancer in September, Sugar Factory owner Charissa Davidovici wanted to contribute to the lives of those affected by the disease.

So, she donned a snow white costume and stuck with what she knew best — candy and kids.

Families signed up for the event through the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation, which provides children with services to help them deal with cancer and blood diseases.

“She’s been giving out all the candy,” Davidovici said, gesturing toward her 3-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, who was dressed like Snow White. “It’s wonderful. It’s something to give back.”

Christine Contorelli, 41, Las Vegas, came to the Sugar Factory with three of her children, Tristan, 17, Ryan, 14, and Ashley, 12.

Contorelli’s oldest son, Chaisson, died of cancer five years ago when he was 13 years old and her other children suffer from a genetic blood disease.

“It just helps the children be happy. It helps us feel normal again,” Contorelli said. “We’re leading our lives.”

At The District in Henderson, Sue Jenson brought her own bucket of candy to give away, along with a pile of toys and a container of doggie treats.

Jenson lives in a nearby condominium, so going to The District is the only way she gets to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters, she said.

“It’s so much fun, and it’s safe,” she said between heaping goodies on passing children and admiring their outfits. “I love the people, and I love the costumes, and I love the animals.”

Most of the crowd at the outdoor shopping complex was parents with young children and the occasional costumed dog.

“We came here last year. It was a nice place to bring the kids,” said Eric Burns of Henderson, who was dressed as Davy Jones from the movie “Pirates of Caribbean.”

“You don’t have to worry about watching the kids go door-to-door,” he said while waiting in line with his wife, 2-year-old son, Jace, dressed as Mickey Mouse, and 4-month-old daughter, Lux, a bee sleeping in a stroller.

Costumed children, meanwhile, went trick-or-treating at the stores and at trucks and cars from Audi Henderson that were parked along the street.

For Halloween, The Carousel at The District was turned into the Carousel of Doom and was surrounded by the Carnival of Horrors, where sideshow characters passed out candy from dilapidated carnival booths.

Erica Denton of Henderson was there with her three children. “We didn’t want to go door to door,” she said. “We’ve been going door to door forever. We’ve never been here.”

Mary Sobati, who was visiting from Vancouver, British Columbia, said The District was the first stop of the night for her children. “First we come here, then we go to the neighborhood,” she said.

At the Safe Street Halloween event at the Town Square mall, costumes ranged from horror movie characters to Michael Jackson and his different looks over the decades of his life.

Safe Street is an annual event that allows families to dress up and roam Town Square while collecting candy. Stores handed out treats and stickers to children enjoying the Halloween festivities.

Savanna Ornelas dressed as a pirate and took her two children to collect candy. She said the event is safer than going door to door. “There’s no cars coming through here,” she said.

Robert Martinez and his grandson Diego Davis, 9, dressed up as legendary horror movie characters the “Scream” movie killer and Michael Myers from the movie “Halloween”.

“I’m the guy from ‘Scream’ because my grandson inspired me to be,” Martinez said.

Davis said he and his grandfather pulled names of different characters out of a hat to decide which costumes to wear. He had his face painted white with fake blood trickling down it to achieve the look of the infamous babysitter stalker Michael Myers.

While some residents dressed to scare, others wore fun, cartoon costumes.

Shannon White of Las Vegas was dressed as the Cat in the Hat and his 13-month-old daughter was a leopard.

The event included a costume contest and a “scary-oke” sing-along stage where children sang their favorite songs.

“A friend told me about this happening,” Lisa Cavallo of Las Vegas said. “I think it’s great. If I had kids, I would bring them here.”

Another alternative to going door-to-door was Metro’s Trunk or Treat at the Convention Center Area Command, 750 Sierra Vista, and the Southeast Area Command center, 3675 E. Harmon Ave.

Children were invited to collect candy, listen to music and interact with Metro officers.

Tiarra Cook, 13, said she attended the event for the free candy and to see the younger children in costumes.

Her friend, Melanie Luwis, 16, dressed up as a cat and said she enjoys trick-or-treating, regardless of age. “I’m going to be 21 and trick or treating,” Luwis said.

Metro Public Information Officer Bill Cassell said the event also gives people a chance to get to know the men and women serving the community.

“We have a great relationship with the community,” Cassell said. “The kids are having fun, but I think the cops are having more fun.”

Metro police officer Michael Anderson, dressed in his clown costume, entertained the kids while bouncing around on stage, dancing and joking with the children.

“I love making kids laugh,” he said.

Cassell said the participation this year was the greatest it has been. Officers ran out of candy early and took up collections to go buy more, he said.

Nikita Howard of Las Vegas said she brought her daughter, Claire, to the event for her first Halloween experience. “It’s safer and the candies are not open,” Howard said.