Kent Halloween, usually celebrated the Saturday before Oct. 31, is one of the biggest events of the fall. Downtown is transformed by visitors, college students and locals dressed up in spooky costumes.
Jessica Mills, a sophomore biochemistry major, has gone out to celebrate Kent Halloween for two years now and enjoys seeing all the different costumes.
“My plans for this year are to just have fun with my friends and enjoy Halloween,” she said.
Mills planned her costume last minute and decided to recycle her devil costume from last year and got any additional pieces she needed from Walmart.
Chloe Wingard, a graduate student studying library and information science, is participating in her fourth Kent Halloween.
“I usually go to the Zephyr and hang out there all night because they have indoor and outdoor space and I don’t want to wait in the lines later in the night,” she said.
This year Wingard is dressing up as Mermaid Man from Spongebob. The costumes are her favorite part.
“Some people get so creative with how they put things together,” Wingard said. “Others get fantastic group or couples costumes together. I have a camera roll of pictures I’ve taken over the years with costumes I really liked.”
Wingard is a cosplayer so she always makes her own costume for Halloween.
“I just choose whatever I’m feeling for the night from my stock of various costumes,” she said. “New costumes take a lot of work because I craft a lot of the pieces, but I have a lot already made to use for things like Halloween.”
Wingard headed out for the night with one or two friends and wound up joining with other costumed strangers for the night.
“Last Halloween I was adopted by a coven of witches for the night and I had a blast,” she said.
Wingard said the coolest part of the night is the number of people that come out to have a good time.
“There’s never a shortage of new costumes to look at throughout the night,” Wingard said. “And people look forward to the festivities all year. It’s a really special night for the whole Kent community.”
As the night kicked off around 8 p.m. people joined the biggest tradition for the holiday: waiting in line at a bar.
A group of four in a variety of mismatched costumes headed downtown to check out the festivities. One member of the group, Jacob, was dressed in full armor as a Roman legionary, a costume he had on hand.
Despite the rain and the cold, as the night went on, more groups of people headed downtown. A group of friends huddled underneath umbrellas outside Buffalo Wild Wings in costumes. Among them were people dressed as witches, Zak from Dragon Tales and Puff the Magic Dragon.
“You could have had a bad witch,” Lindsey, a hospitality major, said, referring to the Lizzo song ‘Truth Hurts’ as she explained her costume choice.
Throughout the night, not everyone was looking for treats. Dressed in matching red and green clown costumes, Ravenna residents Greg Pots and Christina Carlson attended Kent Halloween to have a little fun at the other party-goers’ expense.
“[We’re] just walking around scaring people,” said Pots. “I rent a room every year to do this.”
Like everyone, they’d just arrived downtown due to the hour and the rain, but had plans to stay out for a while and get some quality scares in, Pots said.
Kaitlyn Sutherland, a junior business major, didn’t let a little rain stop her from putting on her giraffe ears and coming downtown to have fun with friends and “get drunk” at the bars.
While walking from bar to bar with a couple friends, she saw a couple of costumes that will probably be burned into her memory way past Kent Halloween.
“Oh, what's the weirdest thing we've seen tonight,” she said. “We saw dirty grandpa and grandma. They were like old. So weird. And he sewed a really long penis on himself.”
Standing outside of the Kent Stage, Cleveland-resident Angie Shan, dressed as the night sky, was waiting to go in to see a show with her husband and friends.
Prior to coming to Kent, Shan as inspired to create her costume after noticing the lights in her house.
“I've been wearing this [outfit] all day,” she said. “I had this idea because there were lights from up in my plants that are battery operated. And I was like ‘I’m going to be outer space.’”
David Donelson Cobourn and Lili Culley, students at Kent Roosevelt High School, dressed as characters from “The Shining.”
“We kind of came up with it last minute, but we’ve always loved it,” Donelson-Coburn said.
“I think everyone just doesn’t care about the rain,” said Ben Kemper, senior digital media production major.
A little after midnight, the lines at bars like BarFly and 157 Lounge grew and went down the street.
As it got later, several bars like Barfly and 157 Lounge were over capacity; members of the fire department were called in to help close them down.
With bars starting to close and the lines at many restaurants getting longer, several people stumbled down the streets to parking lots to get to their rides. Ubers and Lyfts lined the streets to close out the night as people tried to get out of the pouring rain.
The night ended with five arrests off-campus by the City of Kent Police which is down from 13 in 2018.