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A few quirky characters to be spotted along Central Avenue

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By Kirsten Laskey

Curious characters can be seen hanging around Central Avenue. They might be leaning up on lampposts or sitting on benches, wearing goofy grins and oddball get-ups.  

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These creatively designed scarecrows may not frighten away the crows, but they do effectively welcome in the Halloween festivities and celebrate locals’ artistic sides.

The Los Alamos Arts Council kicked off the annual scarecrow contest Saturday and the figures will be on display through Nov. 1. Judges will evaluate the scarecrows this week.

Executive Director of the  arts council Marlanne Hamilton said Friday she had five applications to participate in the contest but more could show up Saturday. In the past as many as 21 participants, including businesses, organizations and individuals, have taken part in the event.

The divisions include business, organization and family. Within each division, there is a traditional and contemporary category.

New this year is a category for the county’s 60th anniversary. People are welcome to enter a scarecrow that reflects a historical image to mark the anniversary.

In addition, viewers can also be judges. A people’s choice award will be awarded to contestants. Voting can be done at the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce or during Trick or Treat on MainStreet.

This is the ninth year the scarecrow contest has been held. Hamilton said she got the idea for the contest while visiting a town back East. She went to the town’s chamber of commerce to get information about the event and presented it to the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce.

She explained she thought it would be a great event for businesses.

“I thought it was just another way to do something downtown that people could have fun with and businesses could have fun with, too,” she said. “The community could enjoy (it) and people could enjoy putting the project together.”

A few memorable scarecrows include New Mexico Dance Theater’s Count Pumpcula, Catsanova by the Animal Clinic of Los Alamos and King Toot by the HillStompers. Dolly Day-Out by the Betty Ehart Senior Center makes an annual appearance .“They’re all really creative,” Hamilton said.

The rules for the event include having a sturdy display that can withstand the elements and people need to monitor and maintain their scarecrows.

There is a $10 entrance fee to participate. The Arts Council also reserves the right to refuse any entry that is considered inappropriate.

Having the scarecrow contest has become a fun tradition in Los Alamos. It is one of the first events that kick off the Halloween celebrations and therefore, “I think it makes the town festive,” Hamilton said.

Plus it is the quintessential small-town event a feature big cities cannot offer, she said. It “shows community spirit,” Hamilton added.