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“Spooktacular” event builds community and empowers children to follow their dreams

on November 3, 2015

Halloween is a time for trick-or-treating, but some places in Oakland offered kids more than just candy. The treat was a sense of magic for local children who were encouraged to identify with their heroes and to believe in themselves.

On Saturday, Halloween night, the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library on Telegraph Avenue was filled with batgirls, princesses, muscle men, ninjas and the hat handler for the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. Kids dressed as their own heroes and other storybook characters.

The event was what the library called a “spooktacular” event, co-sponsored with We Tell Our Stories Sister Film Collective, Pan-African Network and PeoplesWorld.Org. The purpose was to build confidence, self-esteem, solidarity and good mental health by encouraging kids to come dressed as people or characters they admire.

“This event was important because it was by the community, for the community. It united us. We came together to establish, create and nourish one another,” said Samantha Hynes, a mother who attended the event.

“My daughter loves princesses. Wearing that costume made her believe that she could be whatever she wants. She is a princess, or anything she chooses to be in her life,” said another mother, Patryce Ealy. Her son also attended this event dressed as a muscle man. “I want to teach him to be strong and confident. Not just physically strong, but mentally,” said Ealy.

The array of characters sent a compelling message on Halloween night, participants said. “I saw costumes that didn’t conform to gender roles. These kids felt strongly about the costumes they chose. They gave themselves a sense of empowerment,” said Hynes.

“It’s a wonderful place for adults and kids. It’s a place to play games, but also for these kinds of festivities. They can really enjoy socializing with each other in a great constructive way,” said Marilyn Becchetti, a member of the board of directors at the library, which is home to social justice gatherings, community-organized events, and now, Oakland kids who discovered their own brand of super heroism.


  1. Mama Cassie Lopez on November 6, 2015 at 12:34 am

    I loved this story! It was so great hearing from parents as well as the children. Thanks so much for covering this event.

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