Several local churches are offering entertaining and safe activities for children this weekend and next, as an alternative to trick-or-treating.
Ridge Manor United Methodist Church will host its annual fall festival from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today in its pumpkin patch on the front lawn of the church at 34350 Cortez Blvd.
There will be free family activities, including a bounce house for children, games and hayrides. A highlight will be the Scarecrow Factory, where for $10 participants can use clothing and other materials that are provided to design a scarecrow. Food and beverages will be available for purchase, including barbecue dinners from SOS Barbecue.
Habitat for Humanity will also have a tent with activities.
Pumpkins, beginning at 50 cents each, will be available for purchase today and through the rest of the month.
The church will also host Trunk-or-Treat, where children select treats from the trunks of decorated cars, from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31. Children and adults are invited to wear costumes.
"It's a nice way for children to go trick-or-treating and parents know they are safe," said Joanne Ritz, coordinator of the events.
Call (352) 583-3770.
Northcliffe Baptist Church, 10515 Northcliffe Blvd., Spring Hill, invites families with children in fifth grade and younger to its fall festival from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday.
"It's free," said Jackie Laird, the pastor's ministry assistant. "We will have carnival-type games, inflatable slides, snacks and, of course, tons of candy."
Children are welcome to wear costumes that are "not too scary."
Jerri Trammel, minister of children, explained why the church is hosting the festival.
"It is my belief that every family needs a church family," she said. "Our church family wants to connect with young families in our community, and share with them the love of God — no strings attached. And in the process, we plan to have a blast with you and your kids."
Call (352) 683-5882.
Lighthouse Baptist Church will have a fall festival at the church's property at 8495 Sunshine Grove Road, about 1 mile north of Cortez Boulevard, west of Brooksville, from 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 31.
The church will provide hamburgers and hot dogs, chips and drinks. There will be two inflatable attractions: a five-in-one with a large jump area and vertical slide for older children and a smaller inflatable jump for younger children. There will be sack races, a beanbag toss, a dart toss and fishing pond.
"The fall festival is an opportunity to minister to our community," associate pastor John Claypool said about the free event. "We want to provide an option for those families who are looking for something other than trick-or-treating. Come prepared to have fun."
Donations toward the cost of the event are welcome. Call (352) 848-4596.
Hope Community Bible Church, 13241 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, will host two free events Oct. 31 — a Harvest Festival from 3 to 5 p.m. and Trunk-or-Treat from 6 to 8 p.m.
"The festival celebrates the best things about Halloween and fall," said Shelley Swind, children's director at the church. "There will be hayrides, caramel apples, doughnuts and apple cider. We will have games and crafts for the kids as well as a pumpkin decorating and a stuff-the-scarecrow competition. Fall stories will be told about pumpkins, fall leaves and scarecrows."
Costumes are welcome as long as they are not scary.
Call (352) 686-6020.
Christian Life Assembly of God, 13065 Jacqueline Road, Spring Hill, will present its Harvest Fest from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 31.
The event is free and offers games, inflatable activities, a maze, a dunk tank, a hayride, food, clowns, candy and prizes. There will be a drawing for door prizes for those who register at the event.
"This will be a time of safe family fun," the Rev. John Hensel said.
Call (352) 597-1139.
Shiloh Problem Solvers and All-Pro Dad of South Brooksville will have Trunk-or-Treat at Kennedy Park, 875 Kennedy Blvd., Brooksville, from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31. There will be candy, food and music.
Christian Church in the Wildwood, 10051 Country Road, north of Weeki Wachee, will host Trail of Treats from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31. There will be candy, inflatables, popcorn and cotton candy.
Call (352) 596-1388, ext. 224.
Christ Lutheran Church, 475 North Ave. W, Brooksville, will offer Trunk-or-Treat from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31. There will be games, candy, a bounce house and hayrides, plus hot dogs, popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy.
"It's a safe environment for parents to bring their children to have fun," said Anna Lamy of the church.
Call (352) 796-8331.