By Barb Pert Templeton
A parade, free children’s games, a clown, jugglers, loads of candy, a family friendly Halloween house tour and yes, even a duck race. Those are the things packing the schedule for the annual ‘Halloween in the ‘Nac’ set for this weekend in Algonac.
“This is our third year of doing this and it’s really family oriented and a lot of fun,” Organizer Mike Bembas said.
The event is being hosted by the group Algonac Alive, a non-profit founded three years ago to create events and activities for the community. Members of the group are volunteers and business owners from Algonac and meet once a month to plan the events.
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This year’s Halloween in the ‘Nac will be on Saturday, Oct. 16 kicking off with a parade at 1 p.m. that starts at Scoreboard N More off Michigan Street and goes on to Smith’s Field. The parade draws hundreds of people to town and will include everything from decorated golf carts, bicycles, tricycles and even a Model T.
Once the parade disassembles at Smith’s Field a carnival atmosphere is in place from 1 to 4 p.m. complete with 25 free games for children to enjoy, all run by business owners and community volunteers, most in costumes.
“This is about doing something good for the kids and it’s not about competition, in this case every kid is a winner and takes home a prize,” Bembas said.
Thanks to generous donations from the business community, this year organizers were able to hire a Rosco the Clown, several jugglers and some pirates who will engage children in some playful sword fighting. A local dance studio will perform on stage and there will be 25 booths with a variety of craft vendors for those who enjoy shopping.
The duck races, from 4 to 4:30 p.m., are a crowd favorite each year and they are sold at businesses year-round in preparation for the big race during Halloween in the ‘Nac. Bembas said they sell 1,000 ducks at $5 each and the first plastic fowl to cross the finish line nets the owner a $500 prize, second is $250 and third is $100. Remaining proceeds are utilized to put on the event each year.
When the festivities at Smith’s Field end Bembas and his wife, Jill Bembas, are hosting an open house at their home on St. Clair River Drive from 6 to 9 p.m. This is the 6th year that they’ve opened their home to the public for Halloween and each year the house is decorated in a different theme for family friendly touring.
“This year it’s Henry the VIII and the Middle Ages in England,” Bembas said.
The couple own a Victorian House built in 1897 and enjoy using it for their own benefit during October placing elaborate decorations all over their front lawn and then in many rooms on the first floor of the house. This year, Bembas will be dressed as a member of 16th Century royalty.
The displays and tour are very family friendly, nobody’s jumping out to scare anyone. Tickets are $5 each and proceeds, usually about $500, are donated to the Algonac Food Bank.
Longtime fans of Oct. 31, Bembas said his wife actually grew up on Tilson Street in Romeo, where dozens of homeowners go all out with decorations for Halloween every year drawing huge crowds. Collecting items for their annual displays is a big hobby and the family garage has yet to see a car parked in it simply because that’s where all the props are stored.
“We start decorating in April just so we can get everything right,” Bembas said. “And we always decorated for Halloween when our kids were young and one day thought wouldn’t it be nice for everyone to see it.”
The tour also provides something good to the community in the form of the donation to the food bank, Bembas added.
Smith Field is located at Smith and Michigan streets in Algonac. The Bembas House Tour will be at 1713 St. Clair River Drive in Algonac.