Posted on Nov 01, 2013
Co-chairs Mark Fisher and Barbara Tischart of Stillwater Sunrise Rotary Club and Georgene Gray of Boutwells, the two sponsoring organizations, both declared this ninth year “another success,” even though numbers were down a bit due to the weather.

Bat Man -- Samir, 5, son of Pam and Hakim Benyahia, Stillwater -- was first in line for this year’s pre-Halloween Parade. He couldn’t smile because Bat Man is a stern, determined do’er of good deeds. With him was Lynda Halbert, Sunrise Rotary Club, who

Neither wind nor cold nor the dark of night stopped Bat Man.  He was first in line, 40 minutes early, for the Ninth Annual pre-Halloween Parade at Boutwells Landing.  Behind him were a vestibule full of kids and parents, waiting for seniors to assemble for the parade down Boutwells Main Street corridor.

Being early was old hat for Bat Man, who is Samar Benyahia, 5, of Stillwater.  He’d made this scene every year since he was two.   

But it was a first-time experience for Andrew Aitkin, 2, from Shoreview, as it was for many of the other 375 kids who, with 1,000 parents and grandparents, crowded past seniors stretched two ways down Main Street.  They did it in an hour and 15 minutes Wednesday evening.  Foul weather didn’t stop them.  In fact, it was an attraction -- a safe, warm place, inside, out of the wind and dark and spitting snow, where they could show off their costumes to admiring oldsters and receive candy, gum, crayons, coloring books, chalk and other goodies in return.

Supporting the trick-or-treaters and the Boutwells seniors was an army of Rotarians and family members, Boutwells staff, STRIVE students and youth volunteers from the local United Way.

Co-chairs Mark Fisher and Barbara Tischart of Stillwater Sunrise Rotary Club and Georgene Gray of Boutwells, the two sponsoring organizations, both declared this ninth year “another success,” even though numbers were down a bit due to the weather.

So did the Boutwells seniors, who turned out in Halloween costumes as varied as the kids.  About 70 seniors had been assigned chairs along the corridor.  But that didn’t include the many more, often in wheel chairs two lines deep, who came to watch and share in the joy of the kids.

So did Polio Plus, the Rotary International (RI) drive to eradicate polio around the world. 

The Halloween Parade kids donated $275 at the Polio Plus tables, just inside Boutwells main door, and got their pinkie little fingers painted purple, just as do children in foreign countries when they are inoculated.  The money, which came from seniors as well as kids, will be added to an annual contribution by Sunrise, which, like some 33,000 other clubs around the globe, is helping eliminate polio worldwide.  A fund of $200 million from RI, plus $355 million more from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is currently being used to immunize children in the last four countries where polio has not yet been controlled.

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