AUGUSTA — Three-year-old Latricia Jones-Brown started out Saturday as a princess but changed into a ladybug before marching in the Halloween parade on Water Street.

Latricia and her mother, Deondrea Jones of Mount Vernon, attended the Children’s Discovery Museum Halloween Party Saturday morning.

“I have another outfit, which is a lot warmer for the parade,” Jones said. “We’re doing this here inside and then she’ll change into the ladybug costume, it’s a sweat suit, and we’ll go to the parade. We’re making a day of it.”

Jones said Halloween isn’t all about candy and that it’s important to participate in community activities.

She said her daughter has attended birthday parties at the children’s museum and loved all the different activities.

“She can play and I don’t have to worry,” she said. “This is a safe environment — child-friendly. It’s just being part of something. If we don’t start using the community when they do something like this, (the activities are) going to dry up.”

Valencia Schubert, the center’s executive director, said she was prepared for 50 to attend the party Saturday. Volunteers from Hall-Dale, Cony and Maranacook schools helped with crafts, face painting and cookie decorating.

“We’ve had it every year except when we moved to this new location on Nov. 7, 2009,” Schubert said. “We’re just offering a safe spot for the kids to enjoy Halloween.”

Lydia Leimbach, adviser for Hall-Dale’s Key Club, brought along eight Key Club members to help out.

“We do a monthly event at different places in the community,” Leimbach said. “When we first got here, there were more volunteers than kids; but it seems to be picking up. It’s a day for the kids, which is nice.”

Alicia Chapman of Winthrop came to the party with her two sons, 3-year-old Tristan and 5-year-old Zachary.

“It’s just something to get them out of the house and have fun,” said Chapman. “They were at the governor’s mansion earlier, where they got a tour. The governor actually shook Zachary’s hand.”

The parade downtown started at 1 p.m.

Families in costume paraded down Water Street to ghoulish music played on a loudspeaker. Tyler Brown of the Augusta Downtown Alliance said his group wanted to create a downtown environment where children could enjoy themselves.

This is the second year his group has hosted the parade.

“We want to bring people downtown,” Brown said. “This is the community working together. We have kids and dogs and families dressed up and participating shops handing out candy, and there will be prizes for the best-dressed dog, kid and baby.”

Brenda Pinkham of the Cozy Cottage Fabric Shop on Water Street, her 8-year-old granddaughter, Lenah, and their dog, Molly, decked out in a unicorn costume, led the parade down the sidewalk stopping at different shops along the way.

“We need to have more people come downtown,” Pinkham said. “Shops here need to be recognized. It’s not just about malls. We’re the little guys who want to be recognized.”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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