WATERVILLE — Talk about scary.

Sarah Barrese’s severed head was on a platter Saturday morning as the blood-stained Colby College junior marched through campus with hordes of other gory, ghastly, gruesome creatures.

Well, not literally. Barrese, 20, was one of nearly 250 costumed students and others who took part in the Fourth Annual Freaky 5K Fun Run and Walk, which raised $15,000 for Hardy Girls Healthy Women programs.

Barrese’s head protruded through a table made of cardboard and covered with a white tablecloth, a baking pan, a napkin, a fork and a knife, creating the costume “Head on a Platter,” which got the prize for scariest costume.
“A lot of my friends are involved in Hardy Girls,” said Barrese, an English major from Short Hills, N.J. “It’s an important cause.”

The event was held not only to raise money for Hardy Girls, but also to call attention to what the organization says is a troubling Halloween trend — the sexualization of girls’ costumes. Instead of being ghosts, clowns and zombies, girls are dressing in sexy costumes sold in stores and consisting of mini-shirts corsets and fishnet stockings.

“We wanted to hold an event that would bring ‘scary and creative’ back to Halloween,” said Hardy Girls president Megan Williams. “Halloween is supposed to be about creative and scary, not about how sexy you can be; and it’s particularly dangerous for little girls who are supposed to be kids, not sexy adults.”

Dressed as “Envy,” and wearing a green top, shorts and stockings, Williams gathered with other participants at the Diamond Building on campus to gear up for the run and walk, which started on Mayflower Hill Drive, exited campus, wound through side streets and ended at Colby’s Alfond Athletic Center. A “fun run” for children was held prior to the adults’ event.

This year’s fundraiser, whose major sponsors were  MaineGeneral Medical Center and Central Maine Motors Auto Group, raised $3,000 more than last year’s, Williams said.

“We partnered with the Colby Volunteer Center, and they are phenomenal — really well-organized,” she said. “We have such a great relationship with Colby. It’s nice to see the students come out and support the work we’re doing in the community.”

Colby senior Lisa Kaplan, a member of the Hardy Girls Board of Directors, was dressed as a cat, all in black, with whiskers drawn on her cheeks.

A government and Middle Eastern Studies major from Cape Elizabeth, Kaplan emphasized the importance of helping people to understand why sexualization of little girls’ costumes in not healthy and why Saturday’s event was needed.

“It’s a good opportunity to both raise awareness and provide an opportunity for the community to show support for Hardy Girls,” she said.

Hardy Girls is a nonprofit organization promoting the health and well-being of girls and women, according to the organization’s website. Mayor Karen Heck, who was at the event, is a founder of Hardy Girls.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
acalder@centralmaine.com