Halloween tradition to raise funds for cancer foundation

Published 6:29 pm Thursday, October 25, 2018

A Washington Halloween tradition will take on a new dimension this year as a fundraising event benefiting the Marion L. Shepherd Cancer Foundation.

Monsters on Main, planned for Oct. 30-31 at the 520 East Main Street home of Riley Simpson and Raven Simpson, will collect monetary donations in memory of the late Robin Roberson Potts, who passed away from cancer Sept. 27. Potts was the Simpsons’ mother and grandmother.

The Simpsons, along with fellow Halloween buff Jonathan Clayborne, are mainstays in the Monsters on Main presentation, which began more than a decade ago and is now one of many projects hosted by the Haunted Pamlico group. Joining them are several friends from the local Alternative Stage community theater cast and neighbors who are Halloween enthusiasts, according to Riley Simpson.

The Simpson family’s loss almost put an end to the tradition, at least for this year.

“I wasn’t even going to bother with Halloween,” said Riley Simpson. But her sister-in-law urged her to continue, so organizers decided the show would go on as a tribute to Potts.

They decided to collect donations for the local cancer foundation since Potts battled the disease three times in her life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988, and a bout with esophageal cancer followed in 2002-2003. Most recently, she was found to have aggressive pancreatic cancer July 25.

“We wanted to take our grief and channel it into something positive, to help us cope with our loss,” Simpson noted.

Monsters on Main, known for its entertaining and spirited hi-jinx, was something with which Potts could identify. She was a champion of the arts in Beaufort County and was even preparing to practice haunting seasonal music for this year’s event at the time of her death.

“She especially enjoyed the Christmas and spring concerts by the Beaufort County Community Orchestra, and Music in the Streets was her great passion,” shared Simpson. Fans of the latter event will remember Potts as a fixture wearing a cheerful costume and playing her accordion.

“If you had an event, she would come up with a costume and music for it,” Simpson continued. “She loved playing her accordion, violin and piano. She was very musical.”

One of the elder Simpson’s favorite memories of her mother is seeing her dressed as a mermaid and rollerskating down Main Street during the 1988 Tulip Festival in Washington. Likewise, Raven Simpson cherishes a video she made of her grandmother playing favorite songs on the piano less than three weeks before her death.

This year’s Monsters on Main will feature characters made popular during the 2017 Nights of Fright hosted by Raised in a Barn Farm in Chocowinity. The characters and the actors who portrayed them also appear in the independent film “Suppertime II.” The film may be viewed on the Haunted Pamlico Facebook page as well as Vimeo and You Tube.

Cash donations will be accepted during the performances, and anyone wishing to write a check should make it payable to the Shepherd Cancer Foundation. Donations may also be mailed to the foundation at 1209 Brown St., Washington, NC 27889.

Monsters on Main begins each evening at 5 p.m. and runs as long as there is an audience, according to Riley Simpson. Parking along East Main Street is limited so spectators are encouraged to walk.