Hudson -- Near the end of October as candy-seeking super heroes, walking talking bumble bees, princesses in pink attire and ghostly goblins of every size invade the streets of Hudson, a 1/2 century anniversary will be celebrated in conjunction with Halloween.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the annual Halloween window decorating celebration which began in 1967 as a chamber of commerce contest among individual Hudson students in fifth through eighth grade, according to Annette Affeldt, chair of the Parent Teacher Organization event.
The window contest has transformed under the watchful eyes of the Hudson Parent Organization, which took it over in 1977.
Prizes have been cash, certificates for fast food, art lessons and trophies. Merchant windows, which are painted by the students and later professionally cleaned, has grown from just under 40 to around 250.
This year's participants will each receive a commemorative coin and T-shirt, thanks to corporate sponsor Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. The T-shirt was designed by Hudson High School seniors Taylor Hoppes and Adam Martin, who have both participated in the event.
"2016 is the 50th anniversary of the Hudson PTO's Halloween Window Painting event, and Jo-Ann Stores is proud to support this creative initiative right in our own backyard," according to Beth Shivak, manager corporate communications. "Each year, we are impressed by the efforts from the students, volunteers and parents that work to make the event a success. Our mission is to inspire creativity, and we are glad to accomplish that as a partner of the Hudson PTO Halloween Window Painting event. We can't wait to see what the students of Hudson come up with for the 50th anniversary."
A timeline of the 50-year history shows that several things have changed over the years, including prizes and painting methodology. Students were disqualified at one point for using chairs or step ladders to reach high places. Later the students were allowed to tape paint brushes to yard sticks for hard to reach areas.
Laura Hudeck was the inaugural first-place winner in 1967.
"I don't remember what picture we painted but I do recall it was on the window of a gift shop on North Main Street called The Curiosity Shop," according to Hudeck. "I painted with my best friend Denise Hunt. We were fifth graders at McDowell Elementary School."
The friends were given $10 for winning first place.
"We were both very exited to split the $10 for winning first place. That was a lot of money for a 10-year-old at that time," Hudeck said.
Hudeck, a member of the Hudson PTO, spent several years on the Halloween window committee.
"My younger son was a participant for two years when he was in elementary school," Hudeck said. "I think Hudson is a great place to raise a family and things like the Halloween window painting make it a unique and memorable experience."
For some families it has become a tradition with parents passing what they learned down to their children who have taken up the Halloween brush.
This year's event is Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with online registration running from Sept. 29 to Oct. 10 at HudsonPTO.org. The event is open to Hudson City School students in fifth through 12th grade. Students in eighth grade and below must paint with a partner. Ninth through 12th graders can paint solo or with a partner. Registration is $24. Each artist must submit their artwork to either the high school office, middle school resource center or an East Woods Elementary School art teacher. The students will receive 11 colors and paint brushes to work with. Drop cloths, which were purchased three years ago, will be used the day of the painting.
The day before painting begins, volunteers will pre-tape the businesses to cut down on splashes and drips.
"The merchants don't have to do anything but provide us the window," Affeldt said. "We keep it up for a week and a half and then have a professional cleaner clean the windows in two days."
The first 150 registered teams are guaranteed a window, coin and T-shirt. Teams registering after the 150 allotment will be placed in a lottery for the remaining windows, according to Affeldt.
The PTO is hoping for about 500 students to participate, which is a bit more than the original 140, Affeldt said.
The students will paint 250 windows, she added.
Aside from the commemorative coin and T-shirts, three high school students will sculpt pumpkins on the Main Street Green.
"It really is such an amazing event," Affeldt, who has been chair for four years, said.
Affeldt's family move to the area just before she became chair, and the event helped one of her children adjust to the new environment, she said.
"I felt like this was a good thing to do, to give back to the community," Affeldt added.
Affeldt's son, Jake 11, a sixth grader, will paint for the second year in a row. Affeldt's entire family gets involved, she said.
"It's almost like a family event," Affeldt said.
Community hours are available for high school volunteers, she added.
Affeldt, who along with a committee, researched the 50-year history of the window painting event, said she enjoyed seeing how the event has evolved over the years.
"Merchants used to clean their own windows," Affeldt said. "The first window cleaner was a Hudson bus driver they hired to clean all the windows for $400. That stuff to me is so interesting."
Affeldt wants to stress to the community what an important event the window painting is, she said.
"Not a lot of communities could keep this going," Affeldt said. "It's really exciting to see it."
For more information visit HudsonPTO.org.