Munchkin Masquerade takes on new sensation due to Covid, but offers same childhood fun


FAIRFIELD – This only happens every seven years or so, but when Halloween falls on a weekend, you can be sure everyone is jumping to celebrate the fall break for 72 straight hours.

The Jelly Belly Factory jumped into action on Saturday when they hosted their annual Munchkin Masquerade. Although the event is usually a train of children parading proudly in their costumes for all to see, this year it was done a little differently.

“Normally we would have a parade,” said John Jamison, vice president of retail operations. “But because of Covid, we are opening the domestic tour today.”

Justin Wagner, 8, of Bay Point, dressed up as a ninja and had a double reason to party on Saturday: Halloween is his birthday. Five-year-old Kingsten Duncan also just celebrated his birthday, but age doesn’t matter for Count Dracula, his costume.

Both thought it was pretty cool to have their birthdays on or near All Saints’ Day.

Two-year-old Leanna Williams wasn’t even sure what Halloween entailed, but she knew she liked it. The tot was dressed as Nala from “The Lion King” and squirmed in his mother’s arms in an effort to jump and be able to run through the candy factory.

Families walked in, donned factory hats, then headed upstairs for a bird’s-eye view of the Byzantine confectionery. Pallets of red, green and magenta candy were stacked, resembling enchanted coal cars.

Kelly the clown was there to greet everyone and “ooh” and “aah” to the costumes.

“This is the first time in two years that I have worn white makeup,” she laughed.

Creepy clowns in the vein of “It” have become a big part of Halloween, but Kelly is of course all sun and smiles, and the kids loved hearing her cheer them on or feign fear in front of their costumes.

“Cruel! Kelly said to a young girl dressed as a Disney villain. “You’re not going to take my puppies, are you ?!”

As parents and families toured the tour, they stopped to take photos and watch videos on making the jelly beans.

In the midst of all the commotion stood a little girl in her Hogwarts best, only she was very upset. She couldn’t find her mother and was fighting back tears. Immediately, all of the adults were sent back to the time when they too had “got lost” in the grocery store or some other large place.

Everyone mobilized to help him. In a few minutes, and with a wave of a magic wand, perhaps, she was reunited with her family.

“Here is!” said a member of the Jelly Belly team, handing them all a bag of goodies. Hermione had deserved it.

Handing out a single ‘big’ bag of goodies at the end of the tour rather than along the route was another way the factory was meeting Covid-19 guidelines by reducing the number of points of contact.

Really, most of the fun for the kids was just dressing up and none of them seemed to miss the parade. It helped, of course, that they were surrounded by candy. Lots and lots of candy. With even more to come on Sunday.

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