Seidel: Geneva offers spooky Halloween events

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT
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Natalie Seidel

As the holiday excitement builds, I recall fond memories of childhood Halloweens spent in Geneva. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, I returned to my hometown and put my advertising degree to work as a marketing coordinator at the Geneva Park District. In this position, I can’t help but feel nostalgic as I work on upcoming Halloween events.

As candy begins to line the shelves of grocery stores, my anticipation of the holiday rises just as it did years ago. I remembered the urge to find the perfect costume, satisfying my innate flair for fashion and challenging my mother’s creative limits.

Following one October’s obsession with Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” my mom crafted a homemade Ariel costume. When I finally donned my costume for trick-or-treating, I discovered the hard mermaid truth – my fin prevented me from walking on land. That night, my devoted dad carried his little mermaid around the neighborhood to gather treats and sweets. But his valiant gesture had ulterior motives; I always gave him acquired Snickers, his favorite candy bar.

As the years went on, my trick-or-treating boundaries grew, and I joined friends in new neighborhoods for maximum candy reaping. I had grown too old to trick-or-treat with mom or dad and started a candy bartering system with friends. Four bite-size Snickers equaled one king-size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Soon enough, I outgrew trick-or-treating altogether. As a teen, I remember desperately searching for any excuse to avoid handing out candy with my parents. I typically ended up seeing a scary movie with friends, coming home completely terrified and wishing I had made better Halloween plans.

While blood and gore may be fun in horror movies, to parents with children on the street it can be the source of terrifying nightmares. Surrounded by spooky decorations, local kids and teens may be tempted by mischief. As older children escape adult supervision to trick-or-treat with friends, what can parents do to ensure their safety? Taking a few precautions can prevent accidents from ruining Halloween.

The Geneva Police Department recommends the following safety “SAFETY” guidelines:

S: Small children should be accompanied by trusted adults. If older children trick-or-treat without parental supervision, they should always walk in groups.

A: Avoid dark colored clothing or add reflective material to costumes for better visibility. Carry a flashlight for use after dark. If children wear masks, make sure they can see clearly and their visibility is not obstructed. Ensure costumes fit properly to prevent tripping. Swords, knives and similar hard Halloween props should be avoided. Substitute hard props with something soft, short and flexible.

F: For teens attending parties, contact the host’s parents to ensure adult supervision.

E: Establish and communicate expectations with children and teens. Create clear boundaries to keep children within familiar neighborhoods. Give children and teens a specific time to be home. In Geneva, the police department recommends ending trick-or-treating at 7 p.m. If children have a cellphone, schedule times to check in with parents throughout the night.

T: Treats should be examined before being eaten by children. Only give and accept wrapped, untampered candy.

Y: You know your own instincts. Trust them. Report any suspicious behavior or activity to your local police department.

The Geneva Park District will offer three safe alternatives that are certain to bewitch the whole family.

On Oct. 27, families can enjoy two spooktacular celebrations. The fun begins with the annual Halloween Hayday from 1 to 4 p.m. inside the Stephen D. Persinger Recreation Center, 3507 Kaneville Road. Halloween Hayday’s festivities will include a children’s carnival, hay rides, bounce houses and a cosmic cake walk. Admission is free for adults. Pre-registration for children is $5 ($8 for nonresidents) and cost at the door is $7 ($10 for nonresidents). This event is recommended for children 10 and younger.

But the fun doesn’t stop when the Hayday ends. The Howl-O-Ween Dog Parade will be from 4 to 5 p.m. at Peck Farm Park, 4038 Kaneville Road. Participants should be sure to arrive early to line up at 3:45 p.m., and dressed to impress for the costume contest. Pre-registration is recommended for this free event.

For the older crowd, the park district offers a thrilling Halloween program. As night falls and the spirits rise, Peck Farm Park will host a terrifying trek through its haunted trails from 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 26 and 27.

After the hike, survivors will enjoy a warm campfire and Antonio’s pizza available for purchase. Pre-registration is encouraged. The Haunted Hike entrance fee is $8 a person in advance or $10 at the event.

For information about these events, call 630-232-4542 or visit www.genevaparks.org. To receive notifications on all the Geneva Park District’s happenings, “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/genevaparkdistrict.

• Natalie Seidel is the marketing coordinator at the Geneva Park District and can be reached at 630-232-4542. Email her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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