With Halloween approaching, many parents are looking for safe but fun events for their children to attend as an alternative to having them go to the doors of strangers for treats. Local churches throughout the county are providing such events, most of them free. Here's a rundown:
• There will be a free Harvest Party and Gospel Sing beginning at 4 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Garden Grove, 18131 Stromberg Ave., south of Brooksville.
There will be food, games and a bounce house. The singing begins at 7 p.m., featuring the Woodsmen Quartet. Call (352) 796-2209.
• Spring Hill United Church of Christ, 4244 Mariner Blvd, Spring Hill, will have a free Kids Karnival from 2 to 4 p.m.
Games, prizes, face painting, music and an inflatable will be offered for kids of all ages. There will also be treats such as popcorn and cotton candy.
"The children are already excited about (the upcoming event)," said Marty Hodgkins, one of the event coordinators. "As a grandparent, I enjoy having the chance for an intergenerational outing. And I know the parents love attending an event that is free of charge for the entire community."
Call (352) 683-4870.
• Harvest Christian Church will host a free community picnic, with food, games, music, face painting and a bounce house, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Lake House, 1202 Kenlake Ave., Spring Hill. Guests should bring a chair. Call (352) 610-4300.
• A live band, inflatable games and a hayride will be featured at the Trunk or Treat event at 5:30 p.m. on the grounds of First United Methodist Church, 109 S Broad St., Brooksville.
Treats will include candy, popcorn, snow cones, hot dogs, chips, cookies and soft drinks.
"Expected to be among the most popular features of the event will be a mobile theater (a truck full of video games)," says a press release. "For younger children, the highlight will be the parked cars with open, decorated trunks where games are played for prizes and lots of candy treats are handed out."
A $5 armband will admit participants to any game throughout the evening. The cost of food and drink will be $3. Call (352) 796-3363.
• First United Methodist Church, 9344 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, will host a free Children and Family Fall Festival from 6 to 8 p.m. for children through fifth grade.
There will be a Crayon 4-in-1 Combo bounce house, with a large jump area, basketball hoop, climbing wall and 10-foot slide all in one. Hot dogs, chips, cupcakes and drinks will be served, and there will be face painting, arts and crafts, games and prizes. "Not too scary" costumes are welcome.
The event is free, and everyone is welcome. Call (352) 683-2600.
• "A fun-filled event for our church and community children" is being offered by Mariner United Methodist Church with its Fall Festival, beginning at 4 p.m. on the church grounds.
There will be games, crafts, face painting, tattoos, spin art, bounce houses, a haunted house, hayrides, a pumpkin patch and Trunk or Treat. Food will be provided. Everything is free.
The church is at 7079 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill. Call (352) 596-0080 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Eden Baptist Church, 22308 Lake Lindsey Road, north of Brooksville, will have its Fall Festival from 4 to 7 p.m.
Games will include a milk-jug toss, balloon darts, tic-tac-toe, face painting, a cakewalk and inflatables. Free food includes hot dogs and chili. There will be an optional $5 barbecue dinner available to benefit missions. Non-scary costumes are welcome.
"This is for everyone, so bring the whole family," student minister Blair McBride said.
Call (352) 796-3855.
• Forest Oaks Lutheran Church, 8555 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill, will have its Fall Festival from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
There will be crafts, a bake sale, the raffle of a hand-sewn quilt, vendors, lunch items, a rummage sale, clowns and balloons, pumpkin and face painting, and door prizes.
"We have it all. There is something for everyone," said Women's Guild publicity chairwoman Karen Postel.
Proceeds will be used for various charity endeavors. Vendor registration ends today. Call (352) 683-1229.
• Everyone is invited to Trunk 'R Treat, a community outreach event at Fellowship Community Church from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
There will be candy and games for kids and a chili cook-off for adults. Pumpkins will be available for sale.
The church is at 11250 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill. Call (352) 686-4612.
• Inflatables, Tony the Balloon Guy, cotton candy, popcorn and lots of candy are being offered to the community for free from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Trail of Treats by Christian Church in the Wildwood, Building A, 10051 Country Road, Weeki Wachee.
"We always try and make everyone feel comfortable and welcome, and this is no exception," said outreach coordinator Seth Davidson. "We provide a safe and dry environment for kids of all ages, even the adults, to have lots of fun."
Call (352) 596-1388, ext. 224.
• "Invite your friends and neighbors to a Christian alternative to Halloween," says Darlene Hurst, minister of children at Northcliffe Baptist Church.
The free Trunk or Treat event will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and is for preschoolers through fifth-graders who are accompanied by an adult. There will be inflatable bounce houses, a dunk tank, snow cones and opportunities to hear the Gospel. Non-scary costumes are welcome.
The church is at 10515 Northcliffe Blvd., Spring Hill. Call (352) 683-5882.
• Christian Life Assembly, 13065 Jacqueline Road, Spring Hill, will present its annual Harvest Fest from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
"This will be a time of safe family fun, including exciting games, inflatable activities, a maze, a dunk tank, a hayride, food, clowns, candy and prizes," says a press release.
There will also be a drawing for door prizes; people must be registered and present to win.
Preregistration for this free event will be available Monday through Friday at the church. Call (352) 597-1139.
• A free Trunk-A-Treat, sponsored by Shiloh Problem Solvers, will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at South Brooksville Community Center, 601 E Martin Luther King Blvd., Brooksville. Call (352) 540-6005.
• 3D Kids and Grace World Outreach Church, 20366 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, will present Hallelujah Night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. There will be free games and lots of candy, along with fun for the entire family. Call (352) 796-3685.