The Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau, along with local business Freedom Hospice, is amping up this year’s Halloween float contest as the city prepares to celebrate the 107th anniversary of the first Frolic.

Depending on your age, some Hiawatha residents may remember the elaborately decorated floats with tissue paper, metallic streamers, fringe and skirting.

Businesses would work together to create intriguing block floats that were at times out of this world. Hours upon hours of work went into creating these floats, along with a lot of money.

Eventually, over the years the heyday of the block floats and the other elaborate family floats trickled down to a few diehards who stubbornly — and fortunately — refused to give up. Along the way a few others would try their hand at creating a Halloween masterpiece and share it with the town for the annual Frolic in the Kiddie and Grand Parades.

When the centennial arrived in 2014, there were several more float and parade entries as the residents geared up to celebrate 100 years of Halloween in Hiawatha. Prize money was awarded to the grandest float of them all — which ended up being a dazzling rendition of the Davis Memorial at Mount Hope Cemetery with the Town Clock. The group of sleeping people of Hiawatha’s past delighted parade goers as they slowly woke and broke into a dance downtown.

In 2020 — like all other events — the Frolic was affected by COVID. However the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau encouraged the community to come out with all their Halloween spirit for an all-encompassing cruise type of parade in the evening. The community went all out with decorated vehicles for the cruise to Halloween music and an amazing time was had by all. The Chandler-Koerperich family brought out a remarkable Cinderella float that earned oohs and aahs from the public.

It’s those memories from long ago — and even those of recent years — that drive organizers of the Halloween Frolic to push for bigger and better each year.

This year is no different as Hiawatha prepares to celebrate the 107th anniversary of the very first Halloween Frolic, which was created by Elizabeth Krebs in 1914 in an effort to keep the hooligans out of her garden on Halloween night.

The Chamber is promising a parade with a few surprises and this year the organization is adding a little enticement to the float contest by offering prize money, thanks to the generosity of Freedom Hospice.

Hiawatha Chamber Administrator Sarah Kleopfer said the theme is “Festival of Frights” and awards will be given in each category based on a variety of criteria, including how the float reflects the theme. Categories are Business, Club/Organization, Family and Vehicle/Wagon with $250 being awarded for first place in each of those. A grand prize of $500 will be awarded for the top float.

Entry forms for the parades can be found in the Hiawatha Halloween Frolic Facebook page or contact the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau at 785-742-7136 or by email at hiawathachamber@rainbowtel.net for more information.

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