Chris Sampson of Bettendorf revisited her old haunts at the Family Museum on Sunday afternoon, helping to decorate the 30th annual Scarecrow Shenanigans Halloween-themed family festival as a volunteer for her 19th straight year.
"A lot of those creatures live up in my attic," she said, pointing to the museum's "Spooky Room," a dimly lit hall where hundreds of children would behold ghoulish figures, from the scary—a headless witch rising from her grave—to the not-so-scary—a fedora-donning skeleton with fingers poised over a keyboard at his desk.
"It's just so fun to watch all the kids come through," said Sampson, who usually staffs the museum's Corner Store.
There was something for all ages of costumed children and their parents, with museum staff estimating around 1,500 attendants.
For the easily frightened, there was a "Fang-tastic" Dracula puppet workshop, a spiderweb bounce house, and a Halloween dance party.
For those kids more tolerant of the creepy and the crawly, like 3-year-old Kennedy Kiroff—who was dressed up as Wonder Woman—live cockroaches and tarantulas were on hand—literally—in the museum's clay room.
"Mama was afraid of it, but you weren't afraid!" exclaimed Cody Kiroff of Davenport to his daughter, who touched a cockroach.
When asked why she dressed up as Wonder Woman, Kennedy said, "Because I wanted to dress up like Wonder Woman."
Another hands-on offering could be found at the "Witch's Brew In A Bag" station, where kids concocted their own squishy potions with imitation troll snot, eye of newt, and glow worms.
Less tactile, but more scientific, was the "Ghostly Bubbles" lab, where adult volunteers poured hot water and dish soap onto pieces of dry ice, causing the solid form of carbon dioxide to emit wispy bubbles.
"You can hold it with a glove, but if you held it with just your hand, then it would dissolve," said Cate Strahl, a senior at Augustana College who was one of the 70 volunteers working the event—the most since the event began in 1988, according to museum staff.
Kids weren't the only ones in costume. Jerry Doty, of Fulton, arrived dressed as a shark, pushing a wagon framed with what looked like prison bars in which his two girls, Nadalee and Adalyn, sat in scuba gear.
"They're in a shark cage," explained their mother, Danielle.
Even the museum's director, Kim Kidwell, got into the Halloween spirit, dressing up as Snow White.
Back at the Corner Store, Sampson shared what made this "Scarecrow Shenanigans" special from all the many she's worked.
"This is the first year that I have a grandchild coming through," she said.