Kids start Halloween celebration early

Brody Garrison has his face painted at the Fall Fun Fest on Saturday at First Assembly of God Church in Jefferson City.

Brody Garrison has his face painted at the Fall Fun Fest on Saturday at First Assembly of God Church in Jefferson City. Photo by Stephen Brooks.

Halloween was still another day away, but children donned their costumes Saturday to elicit frights and seek out treats at several Halloween-themed celebrations across Jefferson City.

The Fountain of Life Family Worship Center held its fifth annual Community Fall Fest in the middle of the afternoon for younger children on the east side of town.

A half hour before the celebration’s 3 p.m. start, the parking lot in front of the church on Grant Street was swarming with school-age kids dressed up as princesses, action figures and ghosts, with spiritual soft rock playing from a stereo system in the background.

The children played a variety of games, from ring toss to a doughnut-eating contest and even a giveaway of cakes and books. Pastor Marcus Sage said the turnout was still strong even though this was the first year the festival was not held on Halloween. He said he expected about 200 children to show up for the two hours of fun.

“We try to get the kids out here to do something really fun for free,” he said as he passed out caramel apples and other treats to children with his wife, Dawn, who was in costume as Cinderella.

Youth pastor David Fowler walked around the games talking to children and took part in some of the fun himself, like a doughnut-eating contests with two girls. Fowler appeared to fall behind at first, but finished just ahead of the girls in the contest, in which people had to eat a doughnut without using their hands.

Fowler said the church saw many children from surrounding neighborhoods and schools come out to the event. He said the church reaches out to people from several backgrounds, not just its own members.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “We don’t push our church or our faith. We’re all Christians and its just about having fun. We try really hard to put on a good program.”

About an hour after that festival started, hundreds more children and their families adorned in equally creative costumes lined up outside of the Jefferson City Jaycees Fairground for a “trunk or treat” event hosted by the local Jaycees chapter.

When the fairground gates finally opened, the line of children, now more than a hundred yards long, streamed through, chattering happily with each other and their families as they picked up large plastic bags from volunteers to hold the candy they were about to receive.

The costumed kids walked a long oval along the fairgrounds gravel, picking up candy and other treats from various organizations, like the Cole County Fire Department and the Jefferson City Police Department’s D.A.R.E Unit, which both decorated their emergency vehicles for Halloween.

Julie Marff, the co-chairwoman of the event and a past Jaycees president, said the event aimed to provide children some Halloween fun without any hazards.

“We just wanted a safe place for the kids to come out, and all the proceeds will go to Operation Toys to help law enforcement buy toys for the children.”

In addition to the Jaycees festivities, there was also a trunk or treat at Wesley United Methodist Church, a Community Harvest Party at the Calvary Assembly of God and a showcase of local bands at Capital City Christian Church.

Halloween events continue today with a trunk or treat and haunted playground at Immaculate Conception School from 2:30-4:30 p.m. and Fall Fun for Families at First Baptist Church from 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. There will also be a trunk or treat from 5-8 p.m. at Capital City Christian Church and from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Southridge Baptist Church. The Jefferson City Police Department will hold its Haunted Precinct from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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