DeKALB – Where else can you stick your hand in a bucket of eyeballs, scream your way through a haunted house and climb a bounce-house city to your heart’s content?
The 29th annual Kishwaukee Family YMCA Halloween Bash filled Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center with frights on Friday evening. The bash included a gym floor full of bounce houses and slides, festive booths with games and crafts lining the indoor track, other sports attractions such as basketball and a putting green, a haunted house, a Fear Factor-inspired tasting room and a special spooky stories segment featuring the DeKalb Public Library staff.
The popular community staple sees an average 2,000 participants each year, and this time around was no exception, Kishwaukee YMCA organizers said.
“We’re glad we came early,” said Angelic Marberg, 33, of DeKalb.
Her son Jack Marberg, 4, was dressed as a Porg, the popular alien creature from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
Vendors lined the outside of the indoor track, decked out in fitting Halloween garb. Local organizations such as Orthodontic Experts of DeKalb offered interactive games, as well as a spinning prize wheel and giveaways. Northwestern Medicine had a “monster splat” game with sticky gel arms to throw at different cards for a prize.
Twins Madelyn Beck, 5, and Gabrielle Beck, 5, of DeKalb, played the monster splat game while dressed as a colorful unicorn and sparkling mermaid, respectively.
“Dressing up is my favorite part,” Madelyn said.
Guests also took part in other popular attractions, such as a Fear Factor-inspired station for people courageous enough to stick their hands into buckets of mysterious items. With the lights dimmed in the Fear Factor room, tiny arms plunked down into vats filled with slimy “bugs” or buckets full of “eyeballs.”
“It felt like worms,” said Layne Aspinwall, 7, of DeKalb as he pulled his hand out of a pumpkin full of “brains.” Aspinwall was dressed as a block from the popular game Tetris.
At the crafts table, the Uhren family made the most of the occasion, opting to dress up together as characters from the classic arcade game Mario Bros.
“We love coming here,” said Angelina McNeela of DeKalb. “This is always the happening place to be on Halloween,” McNeela said.
Her son, Julian Uhren, 4, seemed content at the coloring table after making his way through the “scary” haunted house.
Kishwaukee YMCA Program Executive Heather Appling said the event always is a “team effort, and a lot of fun.”