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Various venues in Cape Girardeau turn Halloween into way of bringing families together
If Halloween is all about the sweets, children in Cape Girardeau had a monstrous number of options Sunday to stock up.
Venues throughout the city, including West Park Mall, Discovery Playhouse and numerous churches, turned the holiday into an elaborate event meant to bring families together and keep them safe.
"It's been a nonstop fun event so far," said the Rev. Darrell Faire of First Pentecostal Church, which held its first fall festival for members and the public. "It's more than just candy; we try to put a lot of ministry focus on it."
Just off Lexington Avenue, in the church parking lot, volunteers from the congregation were chaperoning games such as pumpkin darts, beanbag toss and a fishing hole that was filled with candy.
Children and their families were also treated to a performance by some of the church's youths, a skit in which a professor's experiments kept going wrong.
"The children were glued to it," said First Pentecostal Church Sunday school director Darlene Strand. "We even blew up a pumpkin."
For Nancy Randol and her 7-year-old daughter Bailey, the fall festival was the second stop of the night, as they had already been trick-or-treating around all the mall's shops. As Bailey was in line to get her face painted, Randol said she has never taken her daughter trick-or-treating door to door because organized activities are safer.
"I would love for there to be more stuff in town, more family-oriented stuff," she said. "You don't know anymore where's safe to go."
Strand was joined by hundreds of other parents from Cape Girardeau, Jackson and surrounding towns at West Park Mall to trick-or-treat with their children in an organized, secure location. Doors opened at 4 p.m., and children in princess, Super Mario Brothers, vampire, witch and lion costumes filled the mall.
Dawn McGuire of Dutchtown said she'd been taking her daughter Ryland, 9, to the "Malloween" event for a few years as an alternative to traditional trick-or-treating.
"It's safe, it's easy and it saves on gas," she said.
"And you get a lot of candy," said Ryland, dressed as a kitten.
Trick-or-treating at the mall was more about the experience for James and Crystal Laiben, parents of three children -- Dylan, 4, Oliver, 2, and Karolyn, 1. The family lives in a Cape Girardeau apartment complex, Crystal Laiben said, so there wasn't much of an opportunity for a Halloween experience.
"It's simpler here because it's a concentrated area," James Laiben said. "Plus, you get to see all the cute costumes and people-watch."
As mall staff members were wrapping up their event, churches around the city, like Bethany Baptist Church on Randol Avenue, were setting up for their trunk-or-treat events. At least 20 members decorated the trunks of their vehicles -- many of them with a biblical theme -- to hand out candy to the ghosts, Supermans and Cleopatras of the congregation. Trunk-or-treat events are catching on in a number of communities, according to several of the organizers.
Jamie and Bryan Kiefer of Jackson took their sons Evan and Owen to a similar trunk-or-treat activity earlier in the day at New McKendree United Methodist, a church they attend in Jackson, and continued their Halloween activities at Discovery Playhouse in downtown Cape Girardeau.
Executive director Jennifer Mullix said Sunday's "Pumpkin Day" was the first special event since the grand opening in June. Children painted pumpkins, made bat hats, colored pictures and participated in a story time.
"I think there's a lot more stuff for the kids to do this year for Halloween," Jamie Kiefer said. "We are going to see all the grandparents later to trick-or-treat too. We're just enjoying being together."
502 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO
3049 William St., Cape Girardeau, MO
3054 Lexington Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO
1712 Randol Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO