Southeast Missouri State University student publication

A Boo-tification of Cape Girardeau

Wednesday, November 4, 2020
On Oct. 31, Kelly Downes, arts council director and a Southeast art education major, arranged the event “Boo-tiful Parks: Clean Halloween.” Local participants were able to get involved in park beautification and enjoy Halloween festivities.
Photo by Hannah Radden

To combine the arts and the spooky holiday, the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri hosted a parks beautification party on Oct. 31. The event, Boo-tiful Parks: Clean Halloween, created a way to introduce a new park membership for children called ArtKidTech. The event also provided safe, festive activities for families to celebrate Halloween.

Kelly Downes, arts council director and a Southeast art education major, has a strong passion for the arts and connecting the arts to the community. She hosted the event alongside other organizations including the City of Cape, P.O.R.C.H, the Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers, Twenty North, Finger Print Studio and The Edge.

The main idea for “Boo-tiful Parks” was for participants to have fun while beautifying the park.

“We want to bring some love and awareness to this park, this neighborhood, and to revitalize our public spaces with art and culture,” Downes said.

The planning for the event took many months to complete. The program is the first one of a series that will continue into the spring.

“We didn’t really know what incarnations it was going to take because we were going to plant first,” said Downes. “So these things take a couple months to get everyone on board and to get permits.”

Participants who visited the park could participate in a variety of different activities. In one area, children selected their own pumpkins and used a variety of color paints on bright orange pumpkins. In another area, aerial dance performers twirled and climbed ropes and rings along to music for the audience to watch. Children could watch and help the “mad scientist” make spooky creations, like a pumpkin could “throw up” with a mixture.

Kelley Gill and her family, visitors at the event, enjoyed the creative aspects of the activities.

“It was really fun and a way to bring the community together,” Gill said.

The new children's program introduced at the event is one of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri's newest ideas to get Cape Girardeau locals involved in serving their community in creative ways. According to the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri Facebook page, the program requires a $20 year-long membership fee that includes many benefits and opportunities. ⠀

“I think when people see themselves in their community and see that they played a part in making it better, that’s transformative to the culture of the community,” Downes said.

There are many steps that will go into continuing the program. The Arts Council of Southeast Missouri plans to paint benches and planting trees around the town. They are also looking to campaign for new playground equipment in Cape Girardeau.

“We really want to get young people involved in art, and we want them to see their art in the place they live, which is really trying to promote and fund public art initiatives where we can do large murals and we can transform it,” Downes said.

If you want to support the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri, Downes said membership is one of the best ways. For more information about the programs and the Arts Council Southeast Missouri, visit