Safety tips and alternative options for children on halloween

Trick or treating on Halloween night is the highlight of October, and kids look forward to it all month long. While going door to door is all about the perfect costume and the most candy for kids, it’s important for us all to remember safety comes first.

Cynthia Dennis of Safe Kids of Northeast Florida.

Cynthia Dennis of Safe Kids of Northeast Florida.

Typically, parents remind their little ghouls and goblins to be careful what doors they knock on and to get their candy checked before eating anything. While these are common safety concerns and practices for trick-or-treaters, Safe Kids Northeast Florida has some preventative safety tips that are more often forgotten.

“A lot of these things are your normal pedestrian safe walking rules, like children should walk on the sidewalk when there is a sidewalk available. If there is not a sidewalk, they need to walk on the left  side of the road facing the traffic so they can be seen,” said Cynthia Dennis, Coordinator of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Northeast Florida for the Players Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “Make sure their costumes fit them well, that they aren’t a trip hazard. Just paint their face and wear hats and things rather than a mask, which can obstruct their vision.”

Knowing how to keep Halloween safe and fun is important, but why limit all that fall fun to just one night? Local businesses put on fun festivities for kids, allowing them to indulge in candy and costumes all month long.

Children enjoying the Chick-Fil-A Fall Festival.

Children enjoying the Chick-Fil-A Fall Festival.

The annual Fall Festival at Chick-fil-a is one of many events held by local businesses that give kids another chance besides Halloween to show off their costumes and just have fun. During the festival, Chick-fil-a offers kids activities including face painting, balloon animals, inflatable football and ring toss games, a DJ with dancing and games and candy and treats distributed from tables by local vendors.

One of the kids attending the event, Jade Long, said that her favorite activities to do there are dressing up, eating and dancing. These activities keep her coming back year after year.

“I’ve been here since I was about five,” Long said. “Sometimes I see all my friends here from school, cause I usually go here. I usually go against them in something.”

The Fall Festival at Chick-fil-a isn’t the only fun place for kids to keep the anticipation of Halloween at bay. In St John’s County, Tommy Outley opens the doors to his event for kids of all ages to come and have what he says is “the best time of their life.”

“There is not a lot of events going after the preschool and elementary school kids,” Outley said. “So my thought was, what can I do to help the community, and also, what can we do for the families that really have nothing to do in the fall season.”

From September 26 to November 2, Outley converts his landscaping business into Tommy’s Pumpkin Patch and Fun Zone. No day at Tommy’s would be complete without gathering the family together for hay rides, bounce slides, duck races with old fashioned well pumps and even a leaf room. It also has a petting zoo with almost every farm animal imaginable.

When I first came up with the idea, I wanted some old fashioned fun. So my thought was that there’s no electric, no video games, nothing to do but old fashioned fun,” Outley said. Every kid comes in in ‘AWE,’ and every kid leaves screaming and crying cause they don’t want to leave.”

If trick or treating seems forever away, remember, you don’t have to wait for Halloween to have family fun this fall. There are lots of fun events for kids right here in Jacksonville all month long.