Published 7:05 pm Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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There were princesses, unicorns, zombie brides, even a cookie monster, oh my!

All manner of colorful, cute and spooky creatures were seen on stage at Greenville’s fabled Ritz Theatre last Saturday morning and afternoon.

The occasion was the Helping Hearts charity group’s latest fundraiser, Miss Halloween 2020. Monies raised by the event are going to sponsor a local cancer patient, Eugene Morgan, and a companion on an all-expense-paid dream trip to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

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Along with many contestants opting to walk the stage with Halloween-themed costumes, there was trick-or-treating in the aisles for the younger set, both contestants and attendees, following the morning event. A lively scavenger hunt held throughout both sessions of the event allowed attendees the chance to fish out that lipstick or lanyard and win one of the door prizes donated by area businesses.

The morning’s junior division (ages 0-9) saw Addison Stokes, Piper Crutchfield and Everleigh Oswald (Baby Miss Halloween); Blakelynn Glisson, Jentry Powell and Gabriella Whittle (Miss Tiny Tot Halloween); Chloe Crutchfield, Carlie Strickland, Kaelyn Mills (Mini Miss Halloween);

Sophia Crutchfield, Monica Scarver, Nicole Lee and Aria Bush (Petite Miss Halloween); Hayleigh Jane Peterson, Greyson Gray, Willow Spivey, Harper Ammons and Marilyn Harcus (Tiny Miss Halloween); Riley Grant, Addyson Whittle and Khloe Hamilton (Little Miss Halloween) and Zoie Ward and Savanna Strickland (Junior Miss Halloween) showing off some inventive costumes along with their most winning smiles.

“It’s just amazing what these moms and grandmothers have done, transforming these regular pageant dresses into costumes for today,” said April Richey, chair of Helping Hearts and co-emcee for the event with Melonie Branch.

The afternoon’s senior division brought Teen/Miss Halloween contenders Angel Wasden, Sadie Strickland, Alexis Hamm, Abbigail McMillion and Ally Johnson; Stunning Miss Halloween entrants Kristena Peterson and Billie Lynn Smith; Glamorous Miss Halloween contenders Angel Strickland, Kelly Perdue and Wendy Ward; Elegant Miss contestants Michele Brooks and Amanda Johnson and Golden Miss Halloween entrants Wanda Dewberry, Shirley Killough and Mary Whittle to the Ritz’s storied stage.

A new addition to this years frightfully fun pageant was the Mister Miss Halloween category, with four strapping gents slipping into sequins and satin, showcasing their good natures while raising funds for a good cause.

Each of the contestants in the morning and evening pageants shared the names of those near and dear battling cancer, walking either in memory or honor of their loved ones.

There were tearful moments when Mr. Morgan, a former bus mechanic for the Butler County BOE and security guard at Stabler Hospital, was escorted on stage by Richey and Branch to hear about the plans made for his special Tennessee trip.

Mr. Morgan’s daughter, Amanda Johnson and granddaughter, Ally Johnson, were both part of the pageant. When interviewed on stage, Ally said, “I did this because I wanted to support my grandfather and he wanted to see me in a dress for a change . . . he bought this dress for me to wear and he chose blue, because it was my grandmother’s favorite color.”

Richey lauded Amanda Johnson for raising an impressive $350-plus towards making her father’s dream a reality, earning her the Spirit of Giving crown and sash. Riley Grant, a contestant in the junior division, raised more than $180 and a Spirit of Giving crown and sash. According to Richey, the contestants themselves raised over $1,100 to help with trip expenses through the Spirit of Giving efforts.

With monies still coming in, a total has not been established yet. Richey says that additional donations for Mr. Eugene Morgan’s Grand Ole Opry trip may be sent via PayPal to or by contacting Richey directly via telephone at (334) 546-0982. The trip is slated to take place in early December.