A tiny winged dinosaur, pumpkin people and a slew of witches, cowboys and fairies were among the costumed children that descended upon the Carrboro Town Hall Commons on Tuesday evening.
They were joined by parents, volunteers of all ages and local residents who came to enjoy the Halloween Carnival, a family-oriented annual event set up by the Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department and Commission, a voluntary citizens' board that advises the department on town recreational activities.
"We want to provide a safe activity, primarily for children, but an activity parents are comfortable with, too," said Carol Rosemond, recreation superintendent for the Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department.
"Commission members and other volunteers work the events and the staff plans and sets it up," she said. "It takes a whole lot of people."
Rosemond said the carnival was probably in its 25th year.
Free game booths and activities like the Bean Bag Toss, the Hungry Caterpillar and the Monster Mash provided plenty of entertainment for visitors like Brandon Henderson, a cowboy and Carrboro Elementary first-grader, who visited the Hungry Caterpillar.
The young cowboy squeezed one of the sock caterpillars that was protruding from a wooden garden and guessed its contents.
"I guessed what the caterpillar ate, silly," Henderson said. "I won a spider ring."
This year's carnival also catered to older children, said Doris Murrell, chairwoman of the citizens' advisory board.
"We always have a lot of older kids out, but there have never been a lot of activities to keep them involved," she said.
The Monster Mash was just such an activity, said Tim Larson, a program assistant with the Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department.
He said the ghoulish dance contest was an alternative activity for kids in fourth- to sixth-grade.
"We've got smiley face balloons, alien dracula balloons, and hundred-dollar bills for the rest of our hundred-dollar dancers," he said.
The bills were not real.
But the carnival's activities drew kids even older than the Monster Mash dancers.
Paul McGinley and Karen Alexander, who recently moved from the Washington, D.C., area, said they were impressed with Carrboro's Fourth of July activities and figured Halloween would be even better.
"We both won cupcakes. That's noteworthy," Alexander said, rubbing her pink pig snout.
McGinley and Alexander came to the carnival as Super Pigs.
Chapel Hill resident Jana Collins came to the commons with her son Wilson. She said the carnival offered alternatives to the standard Halloween fare.
"Wilson wanted to go trick-or-treating, but he didn't want to go up to peoples' doors," Collins said.
"It is wonderful," she said. "If I'd known about this, we wouldn't have even bothered to try trick-or-treating. We'll do this every year."
Judy Lindsay, a part-time staff member for the Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department, echoed Collins' sentiment.
"This is probably my 12th carnival," Lindsay said.
"It's a fun time for kids and adults and an alternative to trick-or-treating. It's also a great place to work - making magic wands for a living."
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