Xavier Arce, 18 months, stays warm in his furry dog costume, while Chloe Smith, 4, dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, waits patiently to fill up her picnic basket with candy.
CLAYTON -- Hundreds of costume-clad children descended on downtown turning the area into a sea of superheroes, ninjas and princesses during a day-long Halloween celebration Wednesday.
Coinciding with a Johnston County schools teacher work day, the town held two different events to commemorate the holiday and provide a safe, daytime environment for children and parents to enjoy.
The Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library staged “Fallapalloza”, a four-hour outdoor festival featuring pumpkin painting, story time, a tractor display and baked goods sale. Halfway through the event, children’s librarian Mary Creech estimated they had seen 200 visitors and expected that number to double by its end.
“We’ve already painted at least 75 pumpkins,” said Creech, who donned a pink dress and renamed herself ‘Rose the Reading Fairy’. “It’s been an excellent turnout and everyone has shown up in the cutest little costumes.”
Allison Lawhorn, of Selma, attended with her two children, Jacob, 3, dressed as Spiderman and Kathryn, 1 ½.
“We were looking for something fun to do on Halloween,” explained Lawhorn. “We’re having a ball. Jacob’s favorite part has been the tractor – he really enjoyed it.”
When the library festivities ended, visitors moved along to Horne Square to line up for the annual Halloween Parade sponsored by the Clayton Parks and Recreation Department. With Main Street blocked off from Lombard Street to Town Square, children and parents roamed the sidewalks accepting candy from local merchants.
“I really enjoy seeing the children,” said Joyce Blackley while passing out treats outside her business, Blackley’s Printing & Sign Shop. “I do this every year and it’s a good, safe environment for them to be in.”
Clayton parent Christy Kavulick echoed Blackley’s comments and appreciated the town’s efforts to coordinate an event that promoted community involvement.
“This is a safe environment and the kids always have fun when we come here,” Kavulick said. “We even came out last year in the rain. The kids like to see everyone dressed up and it’s easier to see the costumes during the daytime.”
After the parade, Kavulick and her son, Micah, 5, made their way to Town Square to enjoy about a dozen free games and refreshment stands hosted by the Parks and Recreation department. Micah, attired as Woody from the “Toy Story” movie series, proudly showed off his bag of treats.
“I got lots of candy,” he said.
It was the first visit for Donna White who brought along her two sons and some friends. New to the area, she was impressed by the amount of Halloween activities the town offered.
“This is great,” White said. “I really like that they’re doing something during the daytime. I’m really enjoying Clayton and the fact that is so family friendly.”
“And I like that I got a lot of candy,” said son Dakota Nelson, 8, posing as the Green Lantern. “There’s at least 64 pieces in here.”