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Trick or Treat on the Trail draws big crowd for candy, games, critters
Petting zoo a popular stop for kids at Gainesville Midtown Greenway event
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Alan Guajardo, 6, digs through a bucket of candy Saturday during the Gainesville Parks and Recreation fifth annual Trick or Treat on the Trail at the Midtown Greenway in Gainesville. Alan was helping distribute candy at the Virtual Properties Realty booth with his father. - photo by Erin O. Smith

The fear was real for some children, but it wasn’t ghouls and monsters who had them spooked.

It was goats.

Children of all ages gathered Saturday around the petting zoo at the fifth annual Trick or Treat on the Trail event at the Gainesville Midtown Greenway. Yet some were cautious as the goats stuck their heads through the fence to reach those who were too shy to pet them.

Cecilia Ramirez, 2, and her brother Israel, 6, had no problem petting the animals, but with different ideas. Carmen Adame of Gainesville watched Cecilia pet a rabbit as other children moved on to other animals.

“She’s interested in that rabbit. She doesn’t want to go from there,” Adame said.

The North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm out of Cleveland brought a wide range of animals, including rabbits, goats, and a llama for the children to see during the event.

The Gainesville Parks and Recreation event offered a variety of activities for children. In addition to the petting zoo, there were inflatable bouncy houses, face painting, temporary tattoos and an assortment of games and activities.

“I like it because everything is really close and it’s a lot of kids, and I see a lot of police that are taking care of the kids. Instead of just going to the streets, this is it for us,” Adame said. “The kids love it.”

Growing in size every year, Trick or Treat on the Trail provides a controlled, safe environment as costume-clad children made their way around the greenway collecting candy from creatively themed house fronts decorated by local businesses.

“We’ve come every year they’ve had it,” Natalie Martin said, as her son Noah, 8, finished a game of skee ball, which drew one of the longest lines.

Like many parents, safety is one of the biggest concerns for Martin as Halloween approaches every year.

“It’s calm. There have never been any incidents, there’s never been any fighting, no arguing, nothing happens and everyone’s always nice,” Martin said.

In addition the event being held walking distance from the Gainesville Police Department, it is usually held the weekend before Halloween and in the afternoon while there’s still plenty of daylight.

“We don’t even really do houses anymore. We don’t go door to door anymore, this is safer,” Martin said.

For newcomers like Stefanie Carroll and her family who just moved to Gainesville, it’s a great community event.

“I like it, I think it’s fun,” Carroll said as her group left one of the many game stations, the children winning an extra treat bag for completing a bean bag toss.

“They like the games and the different places where you can get your picture taken, they really like that. That’s really awesome.”

While she said she’s been to similar events in the past, they paled in comparison.

“It’s a lot bigger, a lot more people, there’s a lot more things. At the one where I lived, there were not any games. You walked through and got candy and you went on, so (the games and other activities) make it kind of fun.”

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