By Joel Hall
Three dozen youngsters from Jonesboro United Methodist Preschool (JUMP) renewed a decade of tradition Friday morning. Dressed in their own special Halloween outfits, they marched around the church during the annual Harvest Day Parade.
Karen Arrington, director of JUMP, said the parade has served as a safe Halloween alternative for children one to four years old.
In the morning, the children participated in the parade, toured the church's pumpkin patch, and enjoyed a party afterward in their individual classrooms.
"It's been around for 23 years," said Arrington. "We look forward to it because we know how much fun the kids are going to have and the community enjoys it, too. We just try to celebrate the [seasonal] change and the fact that God has given us this wonderful weather," she said.
Marie Spicer, a Jonesboro First UMC member who operates the pumpkin patch, said this year, each preschooler exuded individuality through his or her costume. The outfits included princesses, Darth Vader, a SWAT team member, a lion, a cowgirl, a cheerleader, a commando, a fireman, and several super heroes and heroines.
"This year, they're more different," said Spicer. "Last year, you could see six of the same costumes. This year, I have not seen a double costume.
"I think the kids are adorable," Spicer said. "When you get them here around the pumpkins, their eyes swell up. When you see them marching around the pumpkins, you see the future coming."
Lauren Schwab, a Jonesboro parent with two children enrolled in JUMP, said she enjoys the parade because it is safer than traditional Halloween activities.
"It lets them see that they can have fun on Halloween," said Schwab. "They don't have to go trick-or-treating."