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Mitchell neighborhood is Halloween central

Kathy Johnson gives 18-month-old Brayton Thompson, dressed as a dinosaur, a piece of candy on Halloween. Johnson’s home is one of many houses in the neighborhood of 15th Avenue that welcome hundreds, and by some counts thousands, of trick-or-treaters every year. (Candy DenOuden/Republic) 1 / 5
Eight-year-old Olivia Compas, of Mitchell, gets a piece of candy from Brent Bollinger on East 15th Avenue in Mitchell. Compas dressed as something she loves — bacon — and was one of many trick-or-treaters to hit 15th and its surrounding streets on Halloween. (Candy DenOuden/Republic) 2 / 5
Mitchell trick-or-treaters line up for goodies on Halloween. (Candy DenOuden/Republic)3 / 5
Trick-or-treaters collect candy on Halloween in Mitchell. (Candy DenOuden/Republic)4 / 5
Trick-or-treaters collect candy on Halloween in Mitchell. (Candy DenOuden/Republic)5 / 5

By a little after 6 p.m. Thursday, Kathy Johnson was already on her second bowl of candy.

Despite the steady stream of superheroes, princesses and movie characters coming to the Johnsons’ doorstep at 324 E. 15th Ave. in Mitchell, she said things would only get busier.

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“This isn’t even busy yet,” she said.

Using everything from decorated pillowcases to hand-shaped buckets to plastic sacks, swarms of children and parents hit the streets Thursday night for Halloween trick-or-treating, and the neighborhood that includes 15th Avenue was ripe for the candy picking.

Johnson said she and her husband, Rick, have lived on 15th for 32 years, and Halloween has always been a big deal. By some counts, hundreds or even thousands of trick-or-treaters visit the neighborhood.

“When I moved in, one of the neighbors told me, ‘We get a lot of kids come for Halloween,’ ” Kathy said.

Brent and Lisa Bollinger, who live a few houses down at 312 E. 15th, agreed, saying they were told the same thing when they moved into the neighborhood 13 years ago. By 5:30 p.m., most residents along the street — like the Johnsons and the Bollingers — were sitting on their front steps, candy bowls at the ready.

“The dog even gets dressed,” Lisa said, looking down at Cooper, their dog dressed like a bumblebee. “He doesn’t really like it, but he gets dressed up.” Brent and Lisa both chuckled as one of the evening’s first hit costumes made its way up their sidewalk: a strip of bacon.

“I wanted to be bacon,” said 8-year-old Olivia Compas. She said her family recently moved to Mitchell — to 14th Avenue — and she was having fun trick-or-treating, even though her costume was hard to walk in.

Nataya Vigil, a 10-year-old from Mitchell, said she thinks it’s a fun chance to get dressed up with other kids. Her mom, Celina, said when they go trick-or-treating, this is the neighborhood they pick. “I think it’s neat,” she said.

Last year, Brent said, nearly 1,400 kids visited the street, according to a neighbor who kept count. Bollingers said they usually buy about 800 pieces of candy, and when they run out, that’s when they take their kids trick-or-treating. Surrounding streets, like 13th, 14th and 16th, also attract strong crowds. Once it starts to get dark, Kathy said, is when the kids really come out. By 8, the big rush is over, she said.

They’re not sure how the tradition got started, but Brent said even he remembers hearing about the neighborhood when he was younger. “Every year, more people know about it,” he said. He and Kathy Johnson said trick-or-treating in a safe neighborhood, with few major intersections or cross streets, likely is part of the appeal. “We’ve never really talked about it. It just happens,” Kathy said.