Halloween fun will start early in Downtown Washington with a special night of trick-or-treating, costume contest and return of the great pumpkin contest.

Downtown Washington Inc. will sponsor its annual Halloween Family Fun Night Friday, Oct. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Many of the downtown businesses and shops will stay open late that night to pass out candy and other treats to children and their families, according to Aimee Frey of Downtown Washington Inc.

Businesses located outside of the downtown area are invited to participate as well.

"If a business wants to set up a table to pass out candy they are welcome to do so," said Frey. "This is a fun community event for all."

Hundreds of people took part in last year's event.

"It's a fun and safe Halloween activity for the whole family," said Frey. "And it's a way for the downtown organization and merchants to give back to the community."

The costume contest will be held under the Farmers' Market pavilion at 6 p.m. Awards will be presented for best individual and group costumes. The prizes will be savings bonds or gift certificates.

Any child kindergarten through high school can submit an entry in the Great Pumpkin Contest.

Pumpkins may be carved, dressed or painted. Entries will be judged according to age appropriate ability, Frey said.

"Use your imagination and let this be your child's project," she added.

Pumpkins may be dropped off at the Farmers' Market between 5-5:45 p.m. Judging will take place at 6:30 p.m. Winners will be announced immediately following judging and prizes awarded.

First-place prizes will be awarded in each age group. The age groups are K-second grade; third-fifth grade; sixth-eighth grade; and ninth-12th grade.

Obermark Optometry at 222 W. Main St. in conjunction with the Washington Lions Club also will collect used eyeglasses that day beginning at 9 a.m. for those in need. People who drop off their old eyeglasses will receive a special treat.

Frey said Halloween Family Fun Night is held rain or shine.

For more information, people may call the Downtown Washington Inc. office at 636-239-1743 or visit www.downtownwashingtonmo.org.