STATE COLLEGE — With four days left until Halloween, State College got into the holiday spirit early.
Two events took place in the area Sunday with the Centre Region Halloween Parade ending the night after Centre LifeLink EMS’s trick-or-treat event “Safe and Seen in the Ballpark” in the afternoon.
More than 1,500 made their way through downtown State College during the parade, walking on College Avenue, Allen Street and Foster Avenue before heading to Memorial Field for costume judging of 11 categories.
Centre Region Parks and Recreation volunteers were able to judge costumes and get the people in and out as quickly as ever, Recreation Supervisor Beth Lee said.
“I’m very pleased,” Lee said. “It all went perfectly. I think it sets a good tone for the rest of the week.”
The parade, which is in it’s 67th year, had to be canceled last year because of bad weather generated by Hurricane Sandy, but Lee is happy they were able to hold it this year.
Though temperatures got a little chilly Sunday night, Lee was pleased that the weather was dry and the parade went off without a hitch.
After all the years, Lee said the thought crossed her mind to maybe stop holding the annual parade, but seeing everyone’s faces and the community support will keep it going for years to come.
Before the parade started, more than 2,000 people stopped by Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for the family trick-or-treat event hosted by Centre LifeLink EMS.
The event included trick-or-treating with some local agencies at the suite level, and games and activities in the concourse area of the field.
Workers counted more than 500 people coming through the gates in the first few minutes and there was definitely more than last year’s total of about 2.000, said Lauren Shurgalla, marketing, development and relationship manager.
She said all the trick-or-treat stations were run by local nonprofits or other agencies.
One station belonged to the Centre County foster care program, who used it as a chance to give out candy to the youngsters and try to get some of the adults interested in foster care.
Foster home recruiter Julie Heverly said if one person thought seriously about signing up for the program the entire day would be worth it because it would mean another kid would have a home.
“This is a great way for us to see hundreds and hundreds of people together and share our message, but also give back to them,” she said.
She and recruiter Jordan Joyce spent hours bagging up 1,000 bags of candy for the kids to make sure they didn’t run out quickly.
Shurgalla said it’s a great event for kids who may not be old enough to go door-to-door on Halloween night because its a safe and secure environment.
Christina McNeill, of Bellefonte, made the trip with her 4-year-old son Connor for that reason. Connor, clad in a ninja costume, also got the chance to enjoy running around in the ballpark.
McNeill said he’s a little young to go out in the community, so she is happy to take him to events that let him get that experience.
Despite the large crowds and long lines, Shurgalla said the event seems to have found a home at Medlar Field. They also had a successful day collecting food for the State College Food Bank and donations for Centre LifeLink.
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.