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Get in the spirit with city’s first ‘scarecrow party’

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

Tired of the coronavirus? Fatigued by the demands of home schooling? Anxious about the upcoming election? Well, the Claremont Chamber of Commerce believes “It’s time we had some fun.”

This interjection of fun is called the Claremont Scarecrow Party, a citywide invitation to create imaginative handmade scarecrows, each with its own personality and flair. Naturally, since the event is produced by the Claremont Chamber, promoting your business is fair game.

“We are excited to announce a (hopefully) new Claremont tradition. The Claremont Scarecrow Party is a fantastic, family-friendly month-long creative party throughout our city celebrating our residents, businesses and organizations,” the chamber wrote in its announcement of the event.

The Scarecrow Party began October 1 and runs through Halloween, so there is plenty of time to join the fun. If you build your scarecrow by the third week of October you will be entered in the official contest with an array of categories including: most imaginative, most humorous, using the unexpected, found or recycled, kinetic and tech, inspired by Claremont, kid-created and promoting business. The chamber will announce the winners on October 19—there will be no prizes, just the recognition and bragging rights for a whole year.

“The scarecrows will celebrate the artistic creativity and whimsical spirit of our community. Scarecrows can be inspired by famous characters, reflect the heritage of our community or be animated, scary or funny. It’s up to you,” the chamber said.

Once someone creates a scarecrow they can register its location with the chamber, which is creating an interactive map to enable people to tour the city and see everyone’s fall themed handiwork. To sign up visit claremonchamber.org.

Randy Lopez, executive director of the chamber, teamed up with Rio de Ojas owners Ray and Terri Riojas, Beatrice Casagran of Ophelia’s Jump and Sonja Stump Photography to create the event, which will fill part of the vacuum left when the Village Venture was recently postponed. Mr. Lopez envisions that in future years the Scarecrow Party will become a part of the Village Venture celebration.

Mr. and Ms. Riojas created a scarecrow called “La Catrina Creida” a Dia de los Muertos character they say is a bit conceited. At first “Cartina,” who is nine feet tall, stood in front of their shop on the corner of Bonita and Harvard avenues, but the wind kept blowing the scarecrow over so they had to attach it to the building. Now it is both figuratively and physically “stuck up.”

As key organizers of Claremont’s Dia de los Muertos celebration, Terri and Ray know first hand the disappointment of having an event cancelled by the pandemic. Even with the physical celebration suspended, the event will go on with an invitation for the public to share “virtual altars” including stories and photos of loved ones who have died.

The event will be livestreamed beginning November 2 at 4:30 p.m. at www.dayofthedead-claremont.com.

“It’s so hard with the COVID—people can’t do anything,” Ms Riojas said. “You can’t have an event that draws hundreds of people to one location. So this [Scarecrow Party] fits the bill with different locations and no set time. Hopefully it will bring some joy to people. I am really excited, I hope this works.”

For children who have been quarantining inside and attending school online the Scarecrow Party gives them something to create with their hands. The whole family can then drive through the city and look at all of the other scarecrows.

As of Tuesday the chamber had 50 scarecrows registered, and as participants submit the locations of theirs online, the staff will add them to an interactive map on their website. Each scarecrow is marked with a dot on the map that one can click to reveal an address and a photo. There are also pictures of the scarecrows on the official Claremont Chamber website.

A redhaired pumpkin headed barista sits out in front of Some Crust. At a little library on South Annapolis, a blue jeans and plaid wearing scarecrow has taken a break to read a book.

In the 600 block of East First Street stands a red-faced creature called “ScareCovid on the Stairway to Heaven.” Edgar Allan Crow is reading “The Raven” to a host of haunts in the 2200 block of Freeman Drive.

Mr. Lopez said there are few rules, rather it’s an “organic community event” and an opportunity for families to do something together while decorating their front yards for the fall season.

Organizations have gotten creative lately with events that are both interactive yet still follow health department rules, which the Scarecrow Party definitely achieves.

“This October, let’s create an event throughout our city that will draw guests, business traffic and provide some fun for our kids. Scarecrows are also great selfie partners,” the chamber wrote.

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