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Gainesvilles Trick or Treat on the Trail offers early Halloween alternative
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Kendall Tucker and Anna Stauffer, both 9, dance to the public address system music Saturday afternoon at the Trick or Treat on the Trail on the Midtown Greenway in Gainesville. Kendall’s mother, Mary Tow, documents the moment for posterity. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Halloween isn’t until Thursday, but for some kids and families, the spooky season began Saturday afternoon.

Kids dressed as superheroes, princesses, pirates and more showed Halloween has arrived at Gainesville Parks and Recreation’s third annual Trick or Treat on the Trail event at Midtown Greenway.

The event featured face-painting, bounce houses, a petting zoo, games and, of course, candy.

Missy Bailey of parks and recreation estimated 80,000 pieces of candy were given out Saturday as some 8,000 people came through the Greenway.

“This is a good community event,” Bailey said. “We have a lot of sponsors in the community that support us every year. A lot of them come back every year.”

The candy was donated by different sponsors and stores throughout the Gainesville area, she said.

Sponsors made booths for the event, then lined the park so kids could walk up and receive candy.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “They love it. It’s a good location. It’s a good time of day. We have had nothing but positive feedback every year.

“They like the location. It’s a little bigger.”

The event moved from Rock Creek Park in 2011 to Midtown Greenway in 2012.

Bailey said the event allowed for a Halloween experience because trick-or-treating is becoming less common.

“You don’t have an open place to go that you can walk around,” she said. “You have to pick and choose where you go that people will let you, and anybody can come here from anywhere.”

Phillip Giddens said he plans on having a Halloween party for the neighborhood kids Thursday, but Saturday he wanted his two kids, Christian, 6, and Hayley, 4, to have fun beforehand.

“It’s wonderful, it’s fun,” he said. “The kids are having a lot of fun. They love meeting people and getting candy. It’s a wonderful thing they are doing here.”

Giddens said it was good to see the event on a Saturday when lot of parents were off work and could attend. Christian was dressed as a Power Ranger, Hayley as Minnie Mouse.

“This was a lot of fun for the kids,” said Allison Dupont, whose sons, Riley, 7, and Zachary, 4, were dressed as pirates.

“This was neat for them to see all the costumes during the day,” she said. “That was fun. ... It’s neat to see this many people out, enjoying themselves and enjoying time with their families.”

Victoria Daniels said Saturday was her first time attending the event with her son, Caiden Wiley, 2.

“Last year, we missed it because I had to work,” she said. “So far, he’s enjoying it. A little sick but I think he just wanted to get some candy.”

Daniels said besides getting candy, Caiden wanted to get his face painted. He was dressed as Leonardo from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

She said she was a Halloween fan growing up, but times have changed, and events like Trick or Treat on the Trail are becoming the norm.

“We did the door-to-door (trick-or-treating),” she said. “I think now it’s not safe to do door-to-door. But since they are doing events like this, I thought it was a little better for the children.”

John Evans, a local native, traveled from Cobb County with his two kids, Mollie, 5, and Peyton, 8 months to visit his parents.

“It was great. We had a good time,” he said. “It’s good to see things growing in areas to where you can go and have a good time. It has changed a lot in the last 13 years since I left.”

Regional events