Last year, when Halloween descended on St. Helens, people came from across the United States to see the town in all its Halloween glory – and to catch Kimberly J. Brown, the actor who portrayed Marnie in Halloweentown, light the pumpkin.
And this year Marnie is back to bewitch us all.
“I will be returning to St. Helens, Oregon this year to kick off the Spirit of Halloweentown festivities and light the pumpkin in the town square,” Brown said in her Youtube announcement.
Last year Brown’s bewitching helped lure a record 15,000 people to St. Helens, according to the Columbia River Fire and Rescue.
This year will be a little different, however – and the crowd might be even larger. Brown plans to stay throughout the weekend of Oct. 8, and will not only light the pumpkin, but host two meet and greet events, ticketed photograph and autograph signings, and a ticketed reading of her new children’s book.
In addition to her other events, the witch herself will also help judge the costume contest with a Portland fashion company. “Dress your best,” Brown warned in her video.
In anticipation of larger crowds, Spirit of Halloweentown organizer Tina Curry is planning ahead to avoid some of the problems the event ran into last year. This includes securing the whole waterfront parking lot (an amenity they did not have last year), building vendor carts so food purveyors and customers will have room to operate, and, last but not least, preordering porta potties.
The key, however, to successful planning, is to plan for the largest crowd possible. “There is no way to predict how large the crowd will be,” said Curry, “so we have to plan for double, triple, quadruple the people.”
In the four hours after Brown’s announcement, 8,000 people visited the Spirit of Halloweentown Facebook page, and she received calls asking about the event from such distant places as the UK and Toronto.
Although the activity agenda is fluid, and will necessarily remain so up to the day of the event, Curry expects around 30 new all-ages activities this year. Some new activities include a Steampunk weekend, featuring two DJ’s, including Goth-Industrial-Darkwave musician DJ Auroua, a variety show by Get On Board Productions, a severed head tractor ride, and a haunted mansion by CnC Scare Factory.
If you have questions or concerns about the event, there will be a community meeting at the City Council Chambers Aug. 1.