- The Washington Times - Friday, October 31, 2003

Doctors, nurses and administrators at Children’s Hospital in Northwest traded their white jackets, stethoscopes, scrubs and suits yesterday for witches’ hats, blinking red devil horns and bright orange pumpkin outfits during the hospital’s annual Halloween Costume Contest.

The staffers paraded around the hospital’s atrium, a huge public space, wearing Halloween garb and bringing smiles to the faces of children who could not join in traditional trick-or-treat Halloween activities because of illness.

“Being in the hospital on a holiday is tough for children,” said Dr. Kathy Woodward, who works in adolescent medicine and showed up as the Doctor in the Hat, a play on “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss.

“Some are on restricted diets and cannot have candy. The annual costume contest is a way to celebrate Halloween without so much emphasis on trick or treats,” she said.

All kinds of characters were in the parade — Dr. Bear, the hospital’s friendly gray mascot bounced around the room; Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz” came in her ruby-red slippers, and the Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll’s classic “Alice in Wonderland” showed up.

“The children get a real kick out of seeing the doctors, nurses and staff dressed up in costumes,” said Dr. Woodward, who has been dressing up every year since 1978.

Before the contest started, the children and the staff danced to the upbeat R&B sounds of “Crazy in Love,” sung by Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z. As the booming bass line resonated throughout the room, little ones confined to wheelchairs with IVs attached to their arms bobbed their heads and tapped their feet. Then Jacqueline Bowens, vice president of government and public affairs, boogied down the aisle dressed as Cleopatra to get the contest under way as master of ceremonies for the hourlong program.

“The Halloween costume contest is a long-standing tradition at Children’s. Our staff and leadership get to have fun and be a little silly today,” Ms. Bowens said to the audience.

Brenda Salgado from the Dental Department showed up as a “Cry Baby” and Serena Higgins from technology ervices danced across the stage as a belly dancer. Ann Granger from nutrition came as the Wicked Witch wearing lime-green-and-black-striped leggins and hat, while Lionel Foreman from the Dentistry Department rounded up applause dressed as a cowboy.

Josh Forbes, 10, and his family were visiting a cousin at the hospital yesterday. Josh, who slipped away to join in the Halloween festivities, said the event was a lot of fun, but it was enough for him.

The costume contest “was kind of funny — cool. I got some candy for my cousin because I know he wanted some candy,” said Josh, who lives in Bowie and could spend a night out among the goblins and ghouls.

“I’ll probably go trick-or-treating with my dad. I’ll pick up a mask tonight. I’m going to humor my dad; he’ll get mad if I don’t go,” he said.

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