NORCROSS - Bringing the snake was a last-minute decision, but one that paid off.
In the eighth annual Hairy Halloween costume contest, the winner in the scariest costume category didn't have long ears or fur. It was 13-year-old Alex Carroll's ball python, Midnight, sticking his head out of a box labeled "Kissing Booth."
The day was supposed to belong to Abby, a 4-year-old German shepherd who was dressed as a magician to 11-year-old Casey Carroll's rabbit, but Midnight stole the show.
Luckily, Casey won the Pinckneyville Community Center's pin the bone on the dog contest, so both siblings went home winners.
Twelve pets and their owners participated in the annual bash, which judged costumed participants in scariest, cutest and look-alike contests with their pets.
Melissa Day-Rodriguez, the community center's recreation leader, said the Halloween contest had spread across the county.
"People have pets, they want to bring them, they want to show them off," she said.
Miranda Pollard, 8, won the award for cutest costume for the matching devil outfits she and Pinky, a Chihuahua, wore.
The Pollard family is watching Pinky while her owner is in Iraq. Miranda said she heard about the contest when her bus driver gave her a flier.
Pinky became a devil because Miranda wanted to be one, she said. But she wasn't expecting to be a winner.
"I would feel really amazed," she said.
Dara Martin, volunteer coordinator for the Gwinnett County Humane Society, said she had been participating in the contest for three years. She got hooked when she saw a hermit crab in a witch's hat, walking around a terrarium that had been decorated with cut-out bats.
"People get so original," she said. "They really get festive, it's awesome. I'm so happy to be involved in it."