Willow, W.D. and a “trendy girl” are just a few of the scarecrows to make an appearance in the first Keystone Heights Scarecrow Strut.
Area businesses, schools and nonprofit organizations can take part in the contest, which is organized by the Keystone Heights Community Redevelopment Agency.
From the end of October through November, scarecrows of various styles will be displayed around the city, welcoming residents and visitors as they stroll through town.
The scarecrows will be judged based on six different categories – most creative, best personality, schCOOLest, best military theme, most recycled materials and fan favorite. The winners will be announced Nov. 23.
Deirdre Murphy, chair of the Keystone Heights Redevelopment Advisory Board, said the Scarecrow Strut idea is to create a stronger sense of community, making Keystone Heights feel more inviting to people passing through and hopefully drawing people into the downtown area, which in turn will drive sales for local businesses.
“We went to each business, nonprofit and schools, and we asked them to create a scarecrow … in their theme,” Murphy said. “So the pizza place would have their scarecrow tossing pizzas, and the True Value would have a scarecrow out there with a jigsaw.”
The community redevelopment agency is responsible for making public improvements to the city that make it more “visually aesthetic,” according to Murphy.
In 2010, Keystone Heights won the state-wide President’s Award from the Florida Redevelopment Association for renovations the city did around town.
Renee Stanley, owner of Magpies Boutique, a small shop in Keystone Heights that sells trendy bags, jewelry, accessories and even antique furniture, said she plans on having a “trendy girl” scarecrow.
“She’ll have shopping bags and she’ll be dressed trendy with jewelry and the whole deal,” Stanley said. “And of course we’ll advertise in some way – she’ll have our name on her.”
Jarin Kenney, director of the First Baptist Church Preschool, recently signed the school up to take part in the strut.
“His name is Willow, and the theme is going to be ‘off to school,’” Kenney said. “He’s going to wear one of our First Baptist Preschool shirts, and he’s going to have a backpack.”
Because the preschool doesn’t typically advertise, Kenney said she wanted to get its name out in the community. She said the school is aiming to win the schCOOLest category.
W.D. Beck, a State Farm insurance agent in Keystone Heights, has his scarecrow, “W.D.,” already standing out in front of his business.
Beck said his entire staff worked hard on putting the scarecrow together. He wanted to name the scarecrow Lester, after the man who donated the hay, but his staff insisted on naming it after him.
“With so many bad things going on in the world today, we just want to cheer people up,” Beck said. “The whole idea is to support the community. It’s fall; let’s be thankful.”