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Halloween events provide family fun

By Kayla Baugh

This article was published October 22, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.

Kim Ferguson, left, and Kala West participate in last year’s zombie parade in Heber Springs.

Bats, ghosts and ghouls are getting ready to hit the streets. However, if traditional trick-or-treating isn’t your thing, a few local events are family-friendly, and sure to be just as fun.

After Dark in the Park will take place in Heber Springs, beginning at 5 p.m. Oct. 28 with a parade on Main Street.

Rebecca Prince, co-organizer of After Dark in the Park, said the zombie-themed parade was a big hit last year.

“The parade begins in the Harps parking lot and ends at Spring Park with a flash mob where the ‘zombies’ will dance to a choreographed routine to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller,’” she said.

“The idea of the parade is that the crowd lining the street joins in to walk behind the zombies, which creates a huge fun crowd at the end for the flash mob. After the parade, folks can join us in the park for food and fun.”

The parade isn’t limited to just zombies, she said, and people are encouraged to join in on the fun in costume or in a decorated car, trailer or wagon.

Prince said free hot dogs and bottled water will be served to children younger than 18 at Spring Park after the parade, and food vendors will also be set up.

A costume contest will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the amphitheater in Spring Park, with age divisions ranging from children to adults, she said.

Prince said trunk-or-treating and carnival-style games for children will also begin at 5:30 throughout the park.

Admission is free, and preregistration isn’t required to participate in any of the activities, she said, but participants are asked to contact Prince for planning purposes if they will be sponsoring a game, setting up a trunk-or-treat booth or taking part in the parade.

Prince said she and Kasey Griffin started After Dark in the Park together last year, along with a Christmas event that attracted a lot of attention.

“As council members, we created this event because we love serving our community. Heber Springs is a special place with special people, and we wanted to create a fun, safe event for people of all ages. Despite the ‘zombies,’ this is not a dark or scary event, but rather an evening full of laughter and good fun,” Prince said.

After Dark in the Park: Christmas Edition will take place again in December, she said.

“We drew folks from all across the state to the event last year, and the feedback was wonderful, demonstrating the true community spirit of our beautiful little town. Folks just couldn’t believe how many people turned out for the event, and a good time was had by all. This turned into the largest parade crowd in the history of Heber Springs, and we couldn’t be more excited to see what happens this year,” Prince said.

In another community, Trick or Treat on the Square will kick off its 13th year from 5-7 p.m. Halloween night in downtown Searcy.

Amy Burton, director of Main Street Searcy, said a variety of businesses, groups and individuals will hand out candy downtown.

Searcy Parks and Recreation will host carnival games on Spring Street between the White County Courthouse and First Security Bank, she said, and Crain Media will host a costume contest at 111 N. Spring St., beginning at 6 p.m.; registration will begin at 5 p.m.

Burton said it costs $25 to set up a table, and all table rental fees will go to Main Street Searcy.

A table decorating contest will also take place, and prizes will be awarded, she said.

Burton said admission to Trick or Treat on the Square is free, as are all games and activities.

“It’s huge each year,” she said. “We tell businesses to anticipate 3,500 kids.

“The mission of it is a safe trick-or-treat area for kids, but over time, we’ve realized the benefits to the community at large.”

For more information on After Dark in the Park, contact Rebecca Prince at rebecca@rjprince.com or Kasey Griffin at (501) 206-9866.

For more information on Searcy’s Trick or Treat on the Square or to sign up for a table, contact Amy Burton at (501) 279-9007.

Staff writer Kayla Baugh can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or kbaugh@arkansasonline.com.

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