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Haunted Hutchins may become ghost of Halloweens past

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Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2005 10:00 pm

Lodi residents might get a scare this Halloween, with the absence of Haunted Hutchins.

The Lodi Arts Commission, which has hosted the family event at Hutchins Street Square since it started in 2001, voted to pass the event on to another organization earlier this year, after determining that it didn't fit in with their mission statement.

The only problem? No organization so far has stepped up to take over the event.

The Hutchins Street Square Foundation and the Lodi Youth Commission have declined. The Lodi Parks and Recreation Department have said they may be interested in hosting the event beginning next year, but have not given definite confirmation.

In previous years, the event has featured costume contests, scary storytelling, carnival games and free candy, along with a haunted house, designed to give visitors a good scare.

"It was really started to address September 11 and to give children a safe place so they weren't knocking on strange doors asking for candy," said arts commissioner Pat Stockar, who has fundraised for the event for the last four years, enlisting sponsors like the Lodi Boys and Girls Club, the Thornton Boys and Girls Club and the Lodi Youth Commission. "But it's a heck of a lot of work for all of us."

At Wednesday's arts commission meeting, arts commissioners debated whether or not to keep the event going or let it fall by the wayside.

"I'd just hate to see a gap year if Parks and Rec are playing to start it up again," said arts commissioner Donna Phillips, who added that she would be willing to take on food duties if the arts commission hosted the event one more year.

"But we really have a lot on our plate right now," countered arts commissioner Judy Bader.

The event typically takes a month to set up and has required the help of a lot of volunteers, planning the event and working at Hutchins Street Square to man booths and greet visitors.

By the meeting's end, arts commissioners tabled the discussion. With encouragement from Phillips, Stockar agreed to contact Parks and Recreation to ask if they would be willing to host the event this year.

"I would just hate to see it go away," Phillips said.

Contact Lodi Living Editor Tricia Tomiyoshi at triciat@lodinews.com.

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