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Fall festival alternative to Halloween

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Oct. 31, 2010 at 5:31 a.m.
Updated Nov. 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.

Faith Kucera, 9, left, helps Braden Casal, 7, "fish" at the "fisher's of men" booth Sunday at Northside Baptist Church's Halloween Fall Festival. Participants "caught" bags of goldfish after throwing their fishing line over a wall.

Donning Batman capes and Iron Man masks, glittery angel wings and pointed witch hats, about 500 children and adults of every character ran excitedly through Northside Baptist Church's Fall Festival Sunday night.

For more than a decade, Northside's Fall Festival has been promoted through the community as a Halloween "alternative," offering an educational Halloween experience for families a bit squeamish about traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating.

"This is a safe environment and we see it as a ministry to the community," the event's coordinator, Cathy Smith, said. "Parents know the candy here is safe to eat, and the kids get to learn a little about God."

The festival was once organized around a-religious entertainment, but decided several years ago that Halloween could be a time to learn about God, Smith said.

"About three years ago, we started making the booths educational and decided to do Biblical themes," Smith said. "Each year, it improves and gets better."

With Northside staff members, Smith designed more than 17 booths with unique Biblical lessons for the children. Some of the booths' themes included the Fishers of Men fish pond, Seven Days of Creation mini golf and the "Jesus is the real thing" Coke Toss.

At the Evangecube table, 5-year-old "Iron Man" Andan Escalante retold the story of Jesus to church volunteer Lois Clay, hoping to win an Evangecube of his very own. The cube unfolded in different shapes, each with different pictorial stories of Christianity.

"If you can retell the story as I tell it to you, you get to keep the cube," Clay said, smiling.

"He died on the cross, then he rose from the dead," Andan said, while Clay pointed to different pictures on the cube.

Andan's father, Marlon Vick, said he and his fiancé chose to attend the festival on Halloween because it promotes a healthy family atmosphere.

"It's a good place to come, and it's better than trick-or-treating on the street somewhere," Vick said.

Another young family, each dressed up like pirates, said they were invited to the festival by friends, but intend on making the event an annual Halloween tradition.

"It's nice to have it all in one place, there's no stop-and-go traffic like there would be if we were going door-to-door," Marie Lester said, about trick-or-treating with her husband, Stanley and 18-month-old son, Dean.

Lester also enjoyed the Biblical educational opportunities for Dean.

"He's not quite old enough to understand, but as he gets older, coming here will be great for him. We definitely want to make it a tradition," she said.



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