Looking for a treat without the trick? Well look no further than www.clintonnc.com, where, earlier this week, The Sampson Independent’s latest online contest kicked off.
Just in time for the beginning of the holiday season, the Independent and its key advertising sponsors are hosting a virtual costume party and they are inviting everyone to join the merriment.
“It’ll be great community fun,” asserted Larry McPhail, Ford of Clinton general manager, which is title sponsor of the online contest. “It’s great way to get involved in the community and offer some good, wholesome fun for kids and their parents to participate in.”
Winner of the Virtual Costume Contest will receive a $150 grand prize, a nice chunk of change, McPhail said, for someone to use as they begin their holiday shopping.
That’s the treat. Much like the Cutest Kids and Cutest Pets contests, the newspaper offered this spring, prizes will be awarded in three categories which includes, of course, the overall winner with the best costume. Couple that with the braggin’ rights associated with having the best costume in these parts and it’s a winning party in which everyone should want to take part.
Winners are chosen by online visitors who will be allowed to cast votes — one per day — for those pictured in their neatest, scariest or cutest costumes. Voting begins on Nov. 3 and continues until Nov. 10, and winners will be announced the following week.
“Everyone needs to get ready, find that perfect costume, take a photo and enter this contest,” said Daren Parker, co-owner of Parker Gas, another sponsor of the contest.
Parker is sponsoring the Cutest Costume category, where a $50 cash prize is being awarded.
While promoting the business through the contest and its myriad advertising opportunities was one reason for his decision to participate, Parker said his main desire to be involved with the online contest centered around the fun, the start of the most festive times of the year and the community involvement the contest is sure to garner.
“We’ve always tried to do things that are good for kids, and I saw this as one of those really neat things to do,” Parker stressed. “This is sure to be great community fun.”
On the business side, Parker said he viewed it as a great deal and a good way to promote Parker Gas. “It’s a win-win for us in terms of advertising and, at the same time, it allows us to help offer something to children and adults.”
McPhail agreed. “We try to put our support behind programs that benefit young people. We support the local FFAs, athletics and academic programs. This is tied into that. Children love putting on costumes, and this gives them a chance to do that — adults too — and get some recognition.
“It also provides a way for parental involvement. Let’s say a child gets his picture in the paper in his or her costume and their parents show the child the paper. Who knows, they might pick it up and start spotting words they know and pretty soon be reading something to a parent. You never know what this kind of contest can start.”
What’s more, McPhail stressed, it offers a chance at some good community fun.
“It’s fun to look at costumes. My brother sent me a text photo of my 4-year-old nephew in his costume the other day. People love this stuff. You like sending it and you like getting it. Here, on the site, you can enter those pictures and then get people to vote for them. Who knows, you just might be the winner.”
Categories include scariest, most unique, cutes, funniest and overall winner, with prizes being awarded to the overall winner and the cutest. Others will get those braggin’ rights that are just as important.
Photos can be submitted from now until the day before voting ends, Nov. 3, although Parker and McPhail are urging people to begin entering the contest now.
“You want to get those photos uploaded onto the site and start planning how you are going to get those votes,” Parker stressed. “I just encourage everyone to take part. You might just be the one to win a prize.”
McPhail, too, stressed the importance of getting in the contest early. “The sooner, the better. It may just give you the edge.”
Both men said the contest, now in its second year, was a neat idea and one that should involve the whole family.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see all the entries,” McPhail said.
Just like with other SI contests, participants — whether entering, voting or viewing — must have a valid email address, which must be listed as they fill out the online form.
To submit, visit www.clintonnc.com, click on the Virtual Halloween Contest logo and follow the steps to upload the photo and enter.
All of it is made simple, assured Jules Molenda, publisher of The Sampson Independent, to encourage participation.
“We don’t want this to be difficult; we want it to be easy and fun, which it should be.”
Molenda offered thanks to the advertising sponsors for their participation and belief in the fun and advantages of the online contest, and urged residents to frequent those businesses and offer their thanks as well.
“Without our advertising partners, these contests, which so many love, simply wouldn’t be possible. I hope others will support them the way they support this community and these projects,” Molenda stressed.
The main draw of the contest — other than the obvious costume competition itself — is the opportunity to begin promoting the start of what businesses hope will be a very good holiday sales season.
For many, Parker said, Halloween, even though not recognized by all as a holiday, is the start of what leads into Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and the biggest season of them all, Christmas. And participation in the contest affords him a chance to promote the store, his products and a contest that he hopes will have many, many participants.
“Halloween is a great time of year, and it does start the holiday season.” Parker pointed out.
Both sponsors said they hoped the contest had a lot of participants and they urged people to get their costumes on, shoot a picture and begin entering.
“We want everyone to have a lot of fun with this,” Molenda emphasized.