PROSSER -- The spirit of Halloween is haunting Prosser businesses. Everywhere you look downtown, scarecrows with pumpkin heads stare back.
The scarecrows are part of an effort by the Historic Downtown Prosser Association to raise money to buy holiday lights for the downtown area, said Alisa Groenen, downtown manager.
This is the second time the association has asked businesses to decorate for Halloween but it's the first time so many scarecrows have appeared around town.
"Last year there were only about 20 entries," Groenen said. "This year we have 74."
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Each of the scarecrows is unique, but one thing they all have in common is a collection jar for quarters. If you like the 'crow, drop quarters in the jar.
The one with the most quarters next week will win the People's Choice Award, free newspaper advertising plus a plug on the Downtown Association's website and on Facebook.
"The guidelines we gave were very loose," Groenen said. "They have to be handcrafted and we suggested they somehow be related to their business. Like Curves, it's a gym, so they put a female scarecrow out front dressed in purple workout clothes and a headband on one of those stair steppers."
Over at The Rustic Rooster, the owners, Megan and Kevin Parker and her father, Bruce Williamson, all of Prosser, gave their scarecrow a humorous twist.
"My father-in-law likes to come down to the store and sit outside in a rocking chair when it's nice out," Kevin said. "So we all decided to make a scarecrow that looks like Bruce. We used some of his clothes and even gave him a mustache."
They set the scarecrow outside the front door in a regular dining chair -- "Bruce wouldn't give up his rocking chair," Kevin said. Then the three added a basket with a stuffed cat to mimic the store cat, Rusty, and a stuffed dog on the scarecrow's lap.
There's three scarecrow kids in front of MaryLynn Fool's Carousel Kids store on Seventh Street. She, her mother, Ramona Dexter, and her daughter, Josie Fool, had fun making the scarecrows sitting in a hay-filled red wagon.
They're loosely based on a mural of MaryLynn's daughter, son and nephew that her mother, Ramona Dexter, has on a wall in her Prosser home.
"We made one a boy farmer in overalls and a shirt printed with horses, another is a boy in Carhart overalls holding a tractor and the third is a girl in red pj's," Fool said. "We stuffed the clothes with straw and made pumpkin heads for each one. On the girl's head we cut a round hole for the mouth and put in a pacifier."
The city's scarecrows can be spotted in the downtown area between the hospital and the courthouse along Sixth and Seventh streets and Meade Avenue; along Wine Country Road, Merlot Drive and Lee Road; and at Vintner's Village on Merlot Drive.
The scarecrows will be judged Wednesday by a group of Prosser residents including Max Benitz Jr. and Patsy Mercer.
But the results will be a secret until Nov. 3 when they will be published on the Downtown Association's website, http://historicprosser.org, Facebook and in newspapers.
The money collected will be used to buy holiday lighting for the historic downtown area.
Groenen expects the scarecrows to remain in place at least through Halloween and perhaps a few days more.