DECATUR — The most frightening part of 6-year-old Tiauna Drake’s visit to Millikin University on Sunday afternoon was the scary student zombies.

And the best part of Tiauna’s visit to Millikin was the scary student zombies.

Having stated firmly that she wasn’t fond of the animated dead, the Decatur girl didn’t hesitate when asked which bit she enjoyed most about trick or treating at the university with the Elizabethan-inspired architecture. “The zombies,” she said firmly, her fairy costume ruffling in a chilly wind sweeping across campus.

“And oh, she was scared,” said her mother, Theresa Drake. “She took off running.”

But not before her candy bucket was filled up, as were the buckets of her 4-year-old brother, Tionis, and her cousin, Sevie Moore, age 4. They were among several hundred kids from 2 to 12 who took part in what has become a Millikin tradition, the Halloween in the Halls event staged by the Student Housing Council.

Students in all kinds of costumes decorate the residence halls and invite children from the Decatur community, accompanied by parents, to stop by and trick or treat with them and enjoy games and activities. It’s an outreach opportunity for Millikin that opens the campus up to the outside world and also shows visiting children how much fun student life can be.

“The kids really enjoyed it,” added Theresa Drake, 42, who was accompanied by her mother, Sandra Dixon, on a visit from her home in Indiana. “And yeah, I would say this is a really good community outreach project.”

And it wasn’t just the younger visitors enjoying themselves, either. Megan Smith, the Student Housing Council president, said students of all ages love to go home again to childhood and taste the fun of Halloween once more. “Are we having as much fun as the kids? Oh my gosh, yes,” said Smith, 20. “There are dozens of students involved with this, and everybody is having a great time.”

Student guides led kids and parents through the residence halls. There were crafts and refreshments at the Richards Treat University Center while groups waited for their sweet and scary tours to take off. The Millikin students had also thought ahead and had every Halloween taste catered for, just in case zombies were too much.

“We had our students decorate the halls in two different categories: scary or not scary,” explained Smith, a sophomore elementary education major from Kankakee. “That way parents could sign up their kids for whatever they wanted.”

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