By Joel Hall
Clayton County is pulling out all the stops for Halloween, with several cities, public-safety officials, and non-profit organizations hosting family-oriented Halloween activities. Festivals will take place in the cities of Forest Park, Morrow, and Riverdale, and other activities will take place at Clayton County International Park, Southlake Mall, and the Jonesboro and Riverdale branches of the county library system.
· Today, Chick-fil-A's Forest Park Dwarf House, located at 4959 Jonesboro Road, will host its third annual "TREAT-N-TRUNK," from 5 to 7 p.m. According to Sandy Swinson, unit marketing director for the Forest Park Dwarf House, Forest Park police, fire personnel, and paramedics, as well as local residents and business owners, will decorate the trunks of their vehicles and provide candy for children in the area.
"Instead of going to a neighborhood, and going door-to-door, you'll be going from trunk to trunk in the parking lot, where it is safe," Swinson said. In addition, the Forest Park Fire and Emergency Services Department, will have its fire engine on site for children to view, she said.
· The City of Forest Park will host it's annual Halloween Carnival on Saturday, from 6 to 8 p.m., inside the Forest Park Recreation Center, located at 803 Forest Parkway. The event is a long-standing tradition in the city, according to Abbey Jones, program coordinator for the Forest Park Recreation and Leisure Services Department. "Basically, when we started it, we wanted to give them [children] an alternative to going door-to-door," said Jones. "I've been working here for 16 years, and it's been going on for [at least] 16 years."
Jones said the event will feature music, candy, a costume contest, a fortune teller, and about 20 carnival games, such as the ring toss, the coin toss, and tic-tac-toe. Concessions, such as hot-dogs and drinks, will also be sold, she said. "We will have Halloween music playing in the background, [and] there will be lots of candy," Jones said. "We try to stay away from 'scary,' but you can still tell it's a Halloween party."
· According to Lauren Singleton, events coordinator for the Morrow Tourist Center, the Morrow Police Department will present "Safe Halloween," an alternative to traditional Halloween activities, on Saturday, from 6 to 9 p.m., at Olde Town Morrow. The event, according to Singleton, will feature games, a "spooky cemetery," moon walks, and music by an on-site disc jockey. The Clayton County Sheriff's Department Community Relations Unit will pass out free candy to children.
· In addition, the Clayton State University Chapter of AmeriCorps will host a haunted house, staffed by Clayton State students. Tickets to the haunted house are $5. Olde Town Morrow, a shopping and entertainment district, is located on Southlake Circle, adjacent to Southlake Mall.
· On Saturday, from 10 a.m., to 5 p.m., the City of Riverdale will host "Harvest Market on Halloween" on the grounds of Riverdale City Hall, located at 6690 Church St. Assistant City Manager and Director of Community, Cultural Affairs, and Leisure Services Lonnie Ballard, said the event will serve as a continuation of the city's "World Fest," which was canceled in September due to bad weather. "We wanted to do something for Halloween, and October is a big month for public safety," Ballard said. "We thought we could marry the two and have a day of fun and public-safety information. We will also have a lot of the vendors from World Fest."
Ballard said the event will feature music, food, and public-safety information provided by Riverdale's police and fire departments. The fire department will talk about fire prevention, and will also demonstrate vehicle extrication using the "jaws of life." Caribbean and African food, clothing, and jewelry will be sold, and entertainment will be provided by R&B singer, Clark King, African dance expert, "Satima," the PanSonic Steel Drum Band, and reggae artist, Genie Slick.
According to Ballard, a trick-or-treat station will be available for kids, and a costume contest will take place at 3 p.m., on Saturday.
· Today, Saturday, and Sunday, from 8 p.m., to midnight, Hearts to Nourish Hope will present its first-ever "HaunTEEN Reality Experience" at 345 Scott Road. The non-profit organization, which promotes job training and smart choices for teenagers, will host a haunted house showing the consequences of making bad decisions. "It kind of all started because the kids wanted to do a haunted house," said Patrice Wuerth, program coordinator for Hearts to Nourish Hope. "We needed a reason to do it. It is about knowing the consequences of bad choices. There are all sorts of little scenarios that show that, if you make this choice, you could end up here."
According to Wuerth, the haunted house will feature scenes from a rave, an operating room, a graveyard, and a prison. She said the Riverdale Police Department will also stage a drunk-driving car accident in the parking lot of Hearts to Nourish Hope. At the end of the experience, students will sign a pledge not to do drugs or alcohol, according to Wuerth. The cost of the experience is $5 and is open to people ages 13 and up.
The "HaunTEEN Reality Experience" will also take place next week, Nov. 6-8, from 8 p.m,. to midnight.
· According to Carol Stewart, director of Clayton County Library Services, the Riverdale Branch Library will host a Halloween costume contest on Saturday, from 3 to 4 p.m. Children will be able to receive treats and win prizes for the best costume. Parents are asked to alert the library of their arrival and how many children they are bringing, in advance, by calling (770) 472-8100, or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
· On Saturday morning, from 9 to 11 a.m., at Clayton County International Park, the Good Shepherd Clinic will host its first-ever 5K Fun Run and Walk. Participants will be able to run or walk in their most-impressive Halloween costumes, while raising money for the clinic, which provides free health care to Clayton residents without insurance.
Registration for the run will take place at 9 a.m., at the park's Nassau Building. Registration fees range from $10 to $55, depending on the size of the participating party. For more information, call (770) 968-7421, or (678) 466-4679, or visit www.godshep.org.
· Later that evening, from 3 to 7 p.m., the International Park will host a Fall Festival. The free event will feature Halloween games, movies and activities for children on the grounds near the park's St. Barts Pavilion. Starting at dusk, the park will host a Halloween screening of the DreamWorks film, "Monsters vs. Aliens." Popcorn, nachos, cotton candy, and drinks will be provided.
· Tonight and Saturday night, from 7:30 to 11 p.m., the International Park will also host the "Trail of Terror," a haunted trail featuring zombies, ghouls, and chain-saw-wielding maniacs. The cost of walking the trail is $5. Children under the age of 13 will need to have an adult accompany them through the trail.
Clayton County International Park is located at 2300 Highway 138 S.E. in Jonesboro.
· According to Carol Stewart, director of Clayton County Library Services, the Jonesboro Branch Library will host a free screening of the computer-animated film, "Monster House" on Saturday, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. The Jonesboro Branch Library is located at 124 Smith St., in Jonesboro.
Staff writer Maria José Subiria contributed to this article.