Little house of horrors: Halloween fun at The Ridge

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By AJ Vicens

A creepy crowd of characters took over the gym at The Ridge Recreation Center on Oct. 30.

Among those walking table to table at Foothills Park & Recreation District's Boo-rific Bash and Splash Halloween celebration were at least two devils, a couple of dragons and one kid dressed like the Joker from “Batman.” Some chose the light instead of the dark, dressing up as princesses, ladybugs and the ultimate storm chaser, who sported a Doppler on Wheels truck as a costume.

"He's just been obsessed with tornadoes and hurricanes for the last two years," said Betty Beaman, mother of 5-year-old Christian Beaman. “He asked us if he could be a storm chaser. He's really into storm chasers."

Christian Beaman and his parents watch storm chasers on TV whenever they can. Christian's father, Rob, worked for several weeks on the costume, which included working headlights on the truck and farm animals caught up in a swirling tornado.

The Boo-rific Bash and Splash offered area kids a fun night of trick or treating and swimming at The Ridge. Area businesses set up tables and brought candy and other treats, and the youngsters expended their sugar buzz in several bouncy castles that Foothills brought in.

"I think this is great," said Lina Escobar, who came with her 9-month-old daughter, Sofia Boldt. The infant's first Halloween found her dressed as a ladybug covered in hearts, which was a huge hit among the partygoers. Most of those who passed by Sofia just had to stop and say hello.

"She loves it," Escobar said. "She's very social, and she's been trying to play with the other kids."

Tyler Wild of the United Studios of Self Defense was working one of a couple dozen business tables handing out treats. His plastic spiders were creepily popular among the kids who visited his table, and many tried to grab more than one. Wild didn't really care how many spiders the kids took; he said his business was just happy to be in the gym to help celebrate Halloween.

"We're always happy just being in the community and trying to help," Wild said as he watched a group of kids swarm his table and seize a handful of arachnids. "We're happy to help any community project, and this one is awesome. This event falls right in line with our business. Being family-oriented is our biggest thing, and this fits that mold."

Foothills spokeswoman Kate Dragoo said the district was thrilled to find a way to host the bash amid budget constraints that ended the 13-year run of the district's Halloween celebration at Lilley Gulch Recreation Center.

"Luckily, this year we were able to get a sponsor to help us out," Dragoo said. "Littleton Adventist Hospital came up huge for us."

Halloween celebrations in years past didn't include trick or treating, and Dragoo said that was a way to get community businesses involved. A diverse group of businesses came out, from karate studios to local restaurants to West Metro Fire Rescue, which set up an inflatable house that the kids could tour with their families to learn about fire safety.

"We wanted to encourage people to see who's in their community, and to show them they can spend their money locally," Dragoo said.

Dragoo said she and the rest of the foothills staff enjoyed getting the community together in one happy, if spooky, place.

"It seems like everybody is happy to be here," she said. "We've all had cabin fever because of the snowstorm, so it's nice to see everybody here being happy and doing something fun."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbineourier.com for updates and breaking news.