2018-10-11 / Front Page

Halloween memories made at Mechanics Park

By Abigail Worthing Staff Writer


Linda McRee will share her love for the holiday with a community Halloween Party on Oct. 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. in Mechanics Park in Biddeford. The event, hosted by McRee, is free to the public and will feature a bounce house, a DJ, and face painting. (Abigail Worthing photo) Linda McRee will share her love for the holiday with a community Halloween Party on Oct. 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. in Mechanics Park in Biddeford. The event, hosted by McRee, is free to the public and will feature a bounce house, a DJ, and face painting. (Abigail Worthing photo) BIDDEFORD – To Linda McRee, Halloween just isn’t the same anymore.

“Parents have to worry about so much; poisoned candy, razor blades in apples. All sorts of crazy stuff,” McRee said. “Parents don’t even want to take their kids trick or treating any more. This is supposed to be fun. I wanted to make a Halloween event that was fun and safe for all the kids.”

For 12 years, that event has been her Halloween Party in Mechanics Park, a free event for local children that will this year take place on Oct. 13.

The party will begin at 5 p.m. and end at 8 p.m.

Food will be provided by Louis Pizza in Biddeford, as well as other donated snacks such as hot dogs, French fries and carrot sticks, finished with a cake purchased by McRee herself.

“I have three goals for each year. That every kid leaves with a souvenir to remember the night, that their bellies are full, and that they’re tired as hell when they go home,” McRee said. “And so far, I haven’t failed them yet.”

While the event has become a beloved yearly event for her neighborhood, for McRee, this event is a labor of love, spawned from a personal tragedy.

Following the death of her 12-year-old son in 1997, McRee would hold a birthday party in her backyard for him every year in October.

“I kept thinking, ‘What can I do to honor him?’ He loved October and he loved Halloween. We’d throw this party in remembrance and to celebrate his life, and so many people would come out to support us and our family,” McRee said. “Every year, the party grew and grew.”

As the party continued to expand, McRee inquired into closing down the street to make the event into a block party, but as her area is a throughway, that wasn’t a possibility.

“I brought it to (former Ward 5 councilor) Bob Mills, and he told me I could have the park for free,” McRee said. “And the rest is history.”

The event provides all neighborhood children with the opportunity to have a free evening with dancing and activities, and to have another chance to wear their Halloween costumes.

“Of course everyone is in costume. It’s the best part of a Halloween party,” said McRee. “That’s why we try and have it in the first few weekends in October so it’s not quite as cold.”

McRee loves the holiday, and came to the Oct. 4 interview fully in costume, complete with a lighted witch hat and bag.

This year, the event will feature a DJ providing music, face painting and a bounce house. There will also be science experiment demonstrations, such as Mentos-Coke explosions, giving the kids an educational opportunity as well.

“When they’re here, they’re all friends. It’s a beautiful thing,” McRee said.

The event continues to grow every year, sponsored by a small donation from the city and McRee’s own personal fundraising efforts throughout the year. According to McRee, this is her yearly effort, seeking donors and new ideas all year for the event that she considers her “baby.”

The event usually hosts between 100 and 250 children and their families, and she hopes to have even more this year. McRee has put up fliers in all local schools to ensure that the party gets as many kids to participate and enjoy as possible.

For an event such as this, McRee relies on the kindness of those in the community, with everyone in the neighborhood coming to help and donate food, bringing items like carrots and dip and volunteering their time.

This year, notable donors include Three D’s Variety on Main Street, Super Sub Shop on Jefferson Street, the Biddeford Eagles.

Also fundamental in the execution and promotion of this year’s event are Bob and Heather Mills – both of whom have served on the city council and school board, respectively – who helped secure funding and promote the event within schools, and Matt Lauzon, friend and supporter of the party.

One place the event is lacking is in volunteers, which McRee is still in need of. So far, the Oct. 13 event is staffed with 7 volunteers, but McRee hopes to have closer to 20 or 25. Those interested in volunteering for the event, contact McRee via email at witches.rule.31@gmail.com or by phone at 604-9690.

“This is in honor of my son. This my way of remembering him every year, and it’s turned into a beautiful thing in the community,” said McRee, “I just want the kids to have a fun day and a very happy Halloween.”

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at news@inthecourier.com.

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