No record for Augusta Halloween mask event, but organizers ...

AUGUSTA — The weather cooperated and people turned out in force Saturday for Halloween festivities in the city, but the Augusta Downtown Alliance was not able to set a Guinness World Record related to Halloween Masks.No record for Augusta Halloween mask event, but organizers ...

Even so, the organization achieved something else with a lasting impact: Setting roots for Halloween traditions of the future.

“I would say we’ve got a new tradition now,” said Michael Hall, executive director of the Augusta Downtown Alliance. “Augusta has become the capital of Halloween. It’s really fun.”

A crowd gathers Saturday for Halloween festivities organized by the Augusta Downtown Alliance.Photo courtesy of Augusta Downtown Alliance

Heather Pouliot, chairwoman of the Augusta Downtown Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a thriving downtown community, said people love downtown Augusta.

“We’re doing a lot of great things down here,” she said, “but I think this was our community as a whole loving the kids and wanting to do something special for the kids.”

For several hours Saturday, thousands of people gathered on Water Street in downtown Augusta for live music, trick-or-treating, a witches’ dance and fireworks.

“Of all the events I have worked on in the last six years that I am most proud of because we had all the odds stacked against us all week,” Hall said.

The weather was one concern, and COVID-19 was another. Forecasts in the days leading up to Saturday predicted heavy rain, which could have kept people home. And the number of new COVID-19 infections across the state has been on the rise since early October. While people continue to be vaccinated against the respiratory disease, the vaccine is not yet available for children younger than 11.

Rain was falling before 5 p.m. Saturday, as between 40 and 50 vendors were setting up their stations for giving out candy for the event, and that did not stop people from gathering, Pouliot said.

“They didn’t know it was going to stop raining,” she said.

The rain tapered off as the celebration was beginning at 5:30 p.m., and held off until 8 p.m.

Hall said several hundred people — many with umbrellas and in rain gear — began gathering early on Water Street, with a crowd estimated at about 4,000 at the height of the event.

Earlier in the month, the board of the Augusta Downtown Alliance approved a plan to seek a Guinness World Record for gathering the largest number of people wearing Jason Voorhees hockey masks. Voorhees is the slasher at the center of the “Friday the 13th” horror movie franchise.

While it was too late for a judge to be dispatched to verify the record, the Augusta Downtown Alliance had planned to submit a photograph of those gathered.

“We gave out 500 masks,” Hall said, “and we handed them all out in the first 15 minutes of the event starting.”No record for Augusta Halloween mask event, but organizers ...

Attendees at Saturday’s Halloween festivities organized by the Augusta Downtown Alliance include a man wearing a Jason Voorhees-style hockey mask from the “Friday the 13th” horror movie franchise. Organizers attempted to set a Guinness World Record of 500 people gathered together wearing the masks, but only were able to assemble about 50 people in the masks.Photo by Dave Dostie

Originally, people were asked to gather at 7:30 p.m., before the city of Augusta’s 7:45 p.m. fireworks show, for a photograph establishing the record. But the fireworks were moved up to 7:15 p.m., and people dispersed after the show, he said. In all, about 50 people gathered. Hall said it would have been a nice picture, “but it was no world record.”

Next year, Hall said, organizers will try for another record, with a different character, but people will be funneled to the photo location right after the masks are handed out.

“It gives us an opportunity next year to get ahead of the game,” he said, “and get a real judge down here.”

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