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Local costume store raises funds for park

BY KAITLIN DEWULF | OCTOBER 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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Halloween season spurred the perfect fundraising opportunity for a local Lucas Farms Neighborhood initiative — donating and selling costumes to benefit its community park.

In hopes of raising enough funding to renovate Highland Park, longtime Lucas Farms resident Judy Nyren, along with the Lucas Farms Neighborhood Association, opened a temporary costume store in the Iowa City Marketplace. Nyren donated the remainder of her costume inventory to the cause after closing her costume business, One of Judy’s One of a Kind Costumes, which she ran out of her home for 13 years before retiring.

“The bulk of the inventory here is from my collection,” she said. “But we’ve had a great number of additional donations from community members.” Living in Lucas Farms for 38 years, Nyren said, the purpose of the association has matured, and it’s become more about connecting people and identifying the neighborhood as a good place to live.

“Our neighborhood association has gotten more active rallying around the improvement of the park,” Nyren said. The fundraiser opened its doors to the community Monday, and it will continue through Oct. 30, selling costumes from noon to 6 p.m. in a retail spot next to Radio Shack.

The association plans to raise $2,000 to put toward the Highland Park Renovation Project — which seeks to carry out numerous renovations for Highland Park, located at the intersection of Keokuk Street and Highland Avenue. Nyren said one of the important aspects of this fundraising effort was the neighborhood’s ability to use social media to give the issue a digital presence.

“[Social media] is like a community bulletin,” she said. “And it has really encouraged community involvement.” Thanks to the increased exposure the fundraiser has received, Nyren said, its first day was very successful.

“It’s really encouraging to me as a longtime resident to see how involved the community and other parts of the city are getting to help improve our park,” she said. The hot-ticket item of the day Monday was a Robin Hood costume, which nearly sold out by the time the store closed.

Other costumes featured were Buffalo Bill, Anne Frank, and a Romani. Lucas Farms Neighborhood Association member Erica Larson said the proposed park renovations will include a gazebo shelter, water fountains, upgrades to playground equipment, and landscaping necessary to support the development.

Larson said the neighborhood consists of around 3,000 people. “Since Highland Park is our only public green space for the entire neighborhood, we want to make it a jewel or a destination park,” she said.

Kathy Bowers, a Coralville resident who shopped at the temporary costume store, said she was thrilled with the flapper and Renaissance costumes she found for her grandchildren. “I used to go to Nyren’s fall venues for my children, and now I’m shopping for my grandchildren,” Bowers said. “I think there probably won’t be any costumes left by the end of the week.”

She said she thinks the cause of the fundraiser will positively affect the community, and she has no doubt the Lucas Farms Neighborhood Association will reach its goal. “My purchases here were for a good cause,” Bowers said. “I’d rather spend my money here than anywhere else.”


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