CENTRAL CITY — Ella Sanders was speechless when she was delivered the news Thursday afternoon that her submission had been selected as the overall theme for a longstanding tradition.
“I didn’t see it coming,” she said with a big grin on her face.
Members of the Halloween Parade Committee surprised Kelly Capp’s second grade class at Central City Grade School Thursday afternoon with a pizza party after it was announced that the 8-year-old had named this year’s theme.
“Candy, Costumes and Goblins — Oh My!” has been selected as the them for the 92nd annual Centralia Halloween Parade.
Fall Festival and Halloween Parade President Jackie “Butch” Mathus said there were approximately 200 submissions from area grade school students during this year’s contest. A committee then narrows down to the final three before voting on a winner.
“The imagination of a child is phenomenal,” Mathus said. “Some of the themes that they came up with are so good. It’s hard to make the decision. They are all rock stars.”
The theme contest for the Centralia Halloween Parade has been an annual tradition Mathus told Ella Sanders that her entry offers ample opportunity for interpretations during this year’s event.
In addition to winning a pizza party for her class, Ella Sanders will get the chance to ride in a convertible during the parade procession. She will also be recognized at a reception at the Centralia Elks and will create the newest of the famous pumpkins that line the parade route and other city streets every October.
Ella Sanders said the idea for her winning entry was dreamed up one day while she was hanging out with her family.
“I was sitting in my living room with my mom and I just came up with it,” she said.
Central City Superintendent Tim Branon said the school is thrilled to have had one of its students named a winner in this year’s contest.
“We are really happy for Ella,” Branon said. “The parade committee does a great job celebrating the kids. This has been a lot of fun.”
Ella is the daughter of Chad and Maleah Sanders.
In addition to her parents, several family members joined in congratulating her. Those family members included great-grandmother Ellen Goodspeed, grandfather Barry Waggoner and grandparents Steve and Donna Finney, Sherman and Kim Greer and Brad and Terry Sanders.
Ella has two sisters, an older sister Lexi and her baby sister Eilee.
Mom Maleah Sanders said Ella loves to celebrate Halloween, and for her daughter to name the theme for this year’s parade is a fitting tribute.
“It’s her favorite thing to do,” she said. “She has received a first place in the kiddie parade every year she has participated. She loves it.”
Maleah Sander said her daughter is already thinking about what she wants to dress up as this year. Past costumes have included Poison Ivy, Maleficent and Wonder Woman.
“She is already talking about what she wants to be this year,” she said. “She wants to be either Cruella De Ville or Ursula. She plays up the part.”
The Centralia Halloween Parade and Fall Festival will be held on Oct. 27.