Cortland Elks Lodge helps families with free Halloween Costumes

Cortland Elks Lodge's Community Costume Closet. (Kaitlyn Hession/Cortland Voice).

As Halloween slowly makes its way around the corner, many families are scrambling to get costumes for their little ones.

While there are many options to choose from in stores around the area, some parents may not have the money for an expensive costume, or they may want a more valuable option. To fix this problem, the Cortland Elks Lodge 748 created the Community Costume Closet where families can come in and pick a costume out free of charge.

Families can come in during opening hours to choose what costume they want to wear. From babies to adults, the closet has it all! Within the first 20 minutes of the closet opening on October 15th, over 40 people came in to choose what they wanted to be this Halloween.

The idea of the closet was inspired by two key factors of the Elks Lodge: The annual Cortland County Halloween Parade and the other types of clothing closets held at different parts of the year. Amanda Van Vorce, the Esteemed Leading Knight of the lodge, suggested the idea.

“Amanda came up with the idea after noticing that there were many drives for winter coats and prom dresses. So why not Halloween costumes?” explained Exalted Ruler Amanda Funk.

The Halloween Parade also served as an inspiration due to the event becoming such a huge deal in the community. But it wasn’t always like that.

The Cortland County Halloween Parade dates back to the 1940’s as it was developed by service organizations around the community. After years of having it annually, it stopped. It’s not known why they stopped hosting the parade, it was just gone. But, after a 20 years hiatus, the parade came back as the past Exalted Ruler of Cortland Elks Lodge 748 John Pento talked to the Downtown Partnership Association in 2014 to revive the tradition. Thus, the parade was reborn, and the Lodge has been taking it over ever since. If it wasn’t for Pento, the parade or Costume Closet wouldn’t be here today.

The Clothing Closet contains old costumes that were donated and mended by the lodge so they can find a new home. Adults and children alike can come in and try on the costumes and have fun while doing it!

A family trying on costumes at the Cortland Elks Lodge's Community Costume Closet. (Kaitlyn Hession/Cortland Voice).

For those who are interested in contributing to the cause, donations are accepted at the Cortland Elks Lodge 748, Magpie Creations, or the Cortland Youth Bureau. Even other local organizations like Capco have helped donate to the closet by collecting donations themselves for the cause.

“We look forward to anyone who wants to participate!” mentioned Funk. “You can come get a costume or donate a costume your kids may have outgrown or didn’t like. Anything helps!”

The Costume Closet will be available to the public again this Saturday (10/19) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cortland Elks Lodge 748 on 9 Groton Ave. After you get your costumes, be sure to wear them at the Halloween Parade on October 24th as free Trick or Treating takes place at 4:30 p.m. and the parade starts at 6 p.m.

For more information on the closet or parade, be sure to check out the Lodge’s Facebook page at the Cortland Elks Lodge 748.