Trick or Treat on the Square
What: Children can trick or treat at downtown businesses. The center of the square will feature music, face painting, a train ride and a bouncy inflatable.
When: 3-5 p.m. Friday
Where: Gainesville's downtown square
Halloween safety tips
Consider a costume's flammability and choose materials that won't easily go up in flames. Paper, gauze, baggy sleeves, trailing cloaks and billowing skirts can present flammability issues.
Make sure the costume is short enough so children won't trip and fall.
While Mom's high heels may look great, if they are wobbly or unsteady, they are certainly a trip hazard. Shoes should be sturdy and fit well.
Wear light-colored or bright garments to be visible to motorists. Or decorate or trim costumes, bags and sacks with reflective tape that will glow in the headlights of a vehicle.
Use facial makeup instead of masks so vision is unobstructed.
Make a flashlight part of the costume. This will aid trick-or-treaters in being seen as well as in seeing.
Instead of burning candles in a jack-o'-lantern, use a flashlight or other battery-operated device. Omit any lit candles from outside decorations or from around the front doors of residences.
Hall County Fire Services
Trick-or-treaters may double up on goodies this year. Although Halloween falls on Sunday, many Gainesville and Hall County residents will dress up and walk door to door on Saturday.
"That's the $64,000 question - when do you trick or treat?" said Catiel Felts, Gainesville's communications and tourism director. "It's always been my experience that when Halloween falls on a Sunday, we encourage everyone to do it on Saturday. That's what we're telling everybody, although I know some neighborhoods will still do it on Sunday."
Gov. Sonny Perdue's office isn't announcing when residents should trick or treat, and county officials are leaving it up to residents.
"Individual neighborhoods can decide what night to celebrate Halloween, but Hall County public safety personnel will be ready all weekend to address whatever concerns parents have," said Nikki Young, the county's public information officer. "There will be extra sheriff's patrolmen on duty both nights in the neighborhoods to watch out for the kids and for speeders or drunk drivers. Fire Services asks that parents be careful with costumes and decorations because many are flammable."
Gainesville police officers also will be ready both days.
"It does bring up issues when Halloween falls on a Sunday, but we're not standing behind either day," officer Kevin Holbrook said. "Certain neighborhoods will choose either day, and we'll have officer presence and patrols on both days for the safety of the children."
Although the extended daylight saving time will give trick-or-treaters more light to walk door to door, parents should stay vigilant on both nights, Hall County Fire Marshal David Kimbrell said.
"While most folks think about tainted candy as the leading danger at Halloween, it is really the risk of the tiny pedestrians falling over the costumes or getting hit by cars that fail to see them," he said.
"Costume flammability can also be an issue. Jack-o'-lanterns, candles and other flickering flames pose a major danger to young visitors, and fire from unattended candles can result in a Halloween horror."
Drivers should also be more cautious on both days, said Col. Jeff Strickland of the Hall County Sheriff's Office.
"Children are excited about Halloween and may not be paying attention to the things going on around them. They can dart out into the streets quickly and unexpectedly without looking. Drivers need to watch more closely and drive slower than normal," he said.
"Pedestrians should stop at the end of each driveway before proceeding out into the road and remember to look in each direction for oncoming traffic."
Adults also should inspect candy before allowing children to eat it, he added.
The city will host its annual Trick or Treat on the Square on Friday, and downtown business owners will dress up to hand out candy to children who visit the shops. On the square center, kids can enjoy live music, get their faces painted, ride a toy train and jump on a bouncy inflatable.
"It's a good alternative for those who can't go around their neighborhoods," Felts said. "It's also safe and during daylight hours."
Drivers won't have to worry about street closings.
City traffic will operate as usual. More than 600 families are expected to show up.
"It's a great way for kids to experience downtown, as well as their parents," said Angela Thompson, Main Street manager. "They can get used to coming downtown and having a good time."