LeCLAIRE, Iowa - Nippy winds tugged at Grace Jandt, 10, as she and her family waited for the start of the sixth annual Witches Walk through downtown LeClaire.

About 150 people participated in the event and accompanying fun of cackle and costume contests. Canines showed off their spookiest finery during the dog costume contest.

But the gusty weather wasn't the reason why Grace's umbrella was turned inside out, and her hair and shoe laces slanted sideways.

"My name is Wendy and I love the wind. My scarf is blowing. My umbrella got ruined and my shoe laces are out of control," Grace quipped.

Her sister Madeline, 8, appeared as a stooped granny toting a baby and "Granny and baby" showed how they could cut a fine dance step using sideways kicks. The girls helped their mother, Jennifer Jandt, of Davenport craft the costumes out of materials found at home.

Jar Jar Binks of "Star Wars" fame made an appearance in an orange "Clemson University" shirt. The costume wasn't easy to see out of, however, appearing in the parade is fun, said costume wearer Joel Michaelson of Hampton, Ill.

"The best part is the kids," he said.

A few costume designers discovered boxes make great props. Jae Jepsen, 3, and her dad, Josh Jepsen of LeClaire, walked together holding hands. Jae's mom and grandma made her costume, a box wrapped in a shimmery pink material that matched her pants because she wanted to be a pink robot, not silver, Josh Jepsen said.

First-time participants Beth Ackerman and Loretta Buchheit, both of LeClaire, came as a table embellished with a platter of "lady's head" and hungry witch, respectively. "We watched the parade last year and everyone was having so much fun," Buchheit, dressed in witch's hat and blue apron, said.

"We knew she was going to be a witch and we were trying to come up with something for me. We came up with a head on a platter," Ackerman said.

She created her table persona out of a box that took the concept of shoulder pads to the extreme. The table was draped with a plaid cloth and set with utensils, ketchup and the main course of "lady's head." The walk ended at the pavilion on the LeClaire levee and Ackerman knelt down for a rest, leaving her head in a "vulnerable" position.

"What could be better? I'm ready to eat," Buchheit cackled, as she held up a plastic silver knife.


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