Zeke Shepherd beeped as he made his way through throngs of costumed children and adults to reach a bowl of candy outside a West Hartford Center store on Saturday.
The 4-year-old boy, taking part in West Hartford’s annual Halloween Stroll, wasn’t dressed as a car or a robot or any other beeping thing. He was just letting people know he needed a little extra room to get by in his wide, cardboard-and-chicken-wire costume, held around his waist by two duct-tape suspenders.
Zeke — in a world of superheroes and monsters, ninjas and princesses — was a horseshoe crab for Halloween.
“I like their helmets and I like that they go fast,” said Zeke, who knows the marine arthropods from the nature shows he watches on TV and from visits to the Connecticut Science Center and Mystic Aquarium.
His brown shell, complete with a white, painted-on face and dowel-rod tail, took him and his dad, Jon, about three weeks to make from scratch. For the Shepherds, and other families at the Halloween Stroll, tradition still calls for a homemade touch.
“It’s a fun thing to do,” Jon Shepherd said. “Take a couple weeks, work on it every night.”
Other families had the same idea, crafting costumes from bits and pieces, old clothes and lots of cardboard and construction paper.
One little girl wore a headband with antennae, a fuzzy tan dress and a bundle of rolled-up, brown paper on her back — a snail’s shell.
Megan Speick, of Avon, turned her baby carrier into a rocket ship so her 4-month-old son Sam could match his big brother, Andrew, dressed as an astronaut.
“I got the idea off Pinterest,” said Speick, who grew up in West Hartford. “It’s nice to do these things together. We don’t have something like this in Avon.”
The first place Andrew wants to travel in space? Jupiter, the planet with the Great Red Spot and dusty rings.
The stroll attracted 4,000 to 5,000 people, according to Tiffany Grossman of the Moms and More Club of West Hartford, which hosts the annual event.
Good weather always brings out a huge crowd, she says, and Saturday reached a balmy high of 67 degrees in the Hartford area.
Kids trick-or-treated from store to store, listened to live music and climbed behind the wheel of a Zamboni and a firetruck.
Isaiah White, of Manchester, said he has lost track of how many times he’s gotten to see the inside of a fire engine — maybe three — but it never gets old. The Manchester boy, dressed as a red dragon ninja, likes all cars and trucks.
“I really like Formula One cars,” said White, his face hidden behind a swathe of polyester.
Mike Stevens, who was handing out candy for Penzeys Spice on LaSalle Road, didn’t dress up for the stroll, unless you count the apron he wore over his plaid shirt. But with the thick, white beard he was growing out for the Christmas season, Stevens had some kids guessing he was someone else.
“It’s Santa!” shouted one boy.
After the group moved on, Stevens laid his hands on his stomach and laughed.
“I need to go on a diet,” he said.