Children decked in Halloween costumes visited Wampler-Keith Park on Thursday for a spooky good time during Lenoir City Parks and Recreation Department’s annual Park After Dark.
Visitors had their pick of inflatables, hayrides, free food and an assortment of miniature games, including the coffin toss, boo bowling and feed the ghost. Each game resulted in candy.
“We bought more candy so now we don’t have to be as stingy with it,” Zack Cusick, Lenoir City Parks and Recreation Department program coordinator, said. “We can be more lavish with it, more liberal. ... It kind of brings trick-or-treating in one location instead of having to go walk around an entire neighborhood. Here you can play some games and have fun, but also win some candy. We’ve got the corn pit that’s always a big hit for the younger age group. It’s like a big sand box but it’s with corn. Kids seem to love it.”
About 300-350 people were expected to attend, Steve Harrelson, parks and recreation director, said.
“It’s just something the city wants to do that’s a part of the season,” Cusick said. “Just something fun. Here you can play some games and win some candy. Trick-or-treating you just go around the houses a little bit. But still it’s not a replacement at all because I don’t think anything can replace Halloween. It’s just something that’s kind of for the festivities.”
Three judges walked around the park and made their call on who had the best costumes for the evening. Winners were McKenzie Collier for scary princess, Samuel Ward for clown, Logan Lambert for rocket raccoon and Eva Vasques for witch.
Kingston Pike Baptist Church members handed out bags of candy along with a message from the church inviting the community to attend. The Rev. Gary Lynn, who became full-time pastor in August, said the outing was a way to create awareness for the church.
“And to connect with the community,” Lynn said. “We’re a community church and there’s houses all around it, new places up there, the park is here and we just want to connect with our community.”
About 400 bags were made by church volunteers to hand out Thursday.
Robby Wilson played with his 2-year-old son, Damian Bennett, in the child’s pool filled with corn kernels.
“There’s a lot to do, it’s really busy,” Wilson said. “I’ve got two other kids running around here somewhere, a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old, and as soon as they saw this place they lit up. They were so excited.”
Andrea and Brandon Deaton watched as their 3-year-old son, Hensyn Deaton, gave his best shot at boo bowling.
“It’s just something for the kids to do,” Brandon said.
“Because usually at Halloween kids get to wear their costume one time,” Andrea added. “When people do things like this they get to wear it more than once and go out more than once and enjoy Halloween.”