HARRISONBURG — Rithika Ganesha Babu, 2, of Harrisonburg celebrated her second Halloween event at the fourth annual Skeleton Festival in downtown Harrisonburg on Saturday.
Rithika and her parents were just one family that made up the estimated 3,500-plus guests at the event that spanned across downtown in the Friendly City.
“Last time, she was just 5 months old, so she couldn’t do anything,” said Radhika Nandakumar, Rithika’s mother. “So this time she’ll be seeing all the faces and having fun.”
Radhika and her husband, Ganesh Babu Sadasivian, moved to Harrisonburg from India three years ago and said there’s no holiday celebrated like Halloween in their birth country.
“We are learning new things — this is our second time being with the baby,” Radhika Nandakumar said. “We are also getting to know what’s really happening — it’s really fun.”
Children dressed as costumes from Benjamin Franklin to famous modern DJs roamed around trick-or-treating at various businesses and participating in events like the costume contest and an obstacle course.
Many parents expressed how happy they were with the event.
Betty Aceituno, of Harrisonburg, who dressed as a medieval noble lady to compliment her 4-year-old son David’s knight costume, said her family doesn’t usually trick-or-treat on Halloween night.
“We have three kids and they love to dress up,” Aceituno said. “It’s a good opportunity to have them trick-or-treat in a safe environment.”
Ages, darkness and event conflicts are often reasons that the family does not go out on Oct. 31, she said.
With the streets closed to vehicular traffic, visitors were able to safely walk around downtown.
“She’s pretty stoked about just walking around honestly,” said Katie Brubaker of Harrisonburg, whose 18-month-old daughter Vivian wandered around the closed road next to the Denton building.
“Having the traffic blocked off this way is really perfect even for a kid as young as she is,” Brubaker said. “She can just walk where she wants to and see what she wants to do.”
The daytime event also keeps Brubaker at ease versus having to watch after her daughter the evening of Halloween.
“I’d be terrified,” she said. “This works much better.”