10/30/05 — Festival offers alternative for trick or treat

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Festival offers alternative for trick or treat

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on October 30, 2005 2:02 AM

When Timothy Whitfield first came to the W.A. Foster Recreation Center, the surrounding neighborhood had seen its share of violence and other scary activities on Halloween. However, for the past four years, Whitfield has made it his mission to provide the neighborhood children with the more positive aspects of this spooky time of year.

The Fourth Annual Octoberfest, sponsored by the Goldsboro Parks and Recreation Department, is an opportunity for parents, children, family and friends to enjoy a safe alternative to trick-or-treating. Each year, attendants enjoy a carnival-like atmosphere with booths, games, prizes, live entertainment and, of course, candy.

"This is to provide the kids with the positive aspects of life," Whitfield, a local pastor and Octoberfest director, said. "This is really about parent/child involvement. Parents can bring their kids and have some fun. We want to help families come together."

Odessa West, a local resident, said the best place to hold the event is at the W.A. Foster Rec Center because most of the children spend their free time there.

"They've got pool, basketball and all other kinds of stuff," Mrs. West said. "It's the place to come."

For the past two years, Mrs. West said the most enjoyable part of Octoberfest is seeing all of the children having fun and staying positive.

Going from booth to booth playing games, every child and adult at the event had plenty of chances to get candy. Jabrell Burks, 8, and Kiah Murriell, 5, were only two of many children who did not waste the opportunity.

Jabrell said he won most of his candy playing "Bulls Eye." The object of the game is to take a dart with fabric fastener and hit the target for points. Hitting the target nets the thrower a piece of candy. With plenty of Bottle Caps in his mouth, Jabrell said he would definitely come back next year.

"This is the best thing to do in October," he said.

Kiah Murriell also appeared to have a fun time at Octoberfest. However, she was too busy enjoying her Tootsie Rolls to answer any questions. Her mother, Melissa Murriell, said she was glad that her children and other neighborhood kids had a safe place to celebrate Halloween.

"I think it's good," she said. "It keeps the kids off the street. They don't have to go from door to door to get candy and that keeps them away from sex offenders. It gives a chance for kids to be with parents and friends and family."

Once all of the children had been given the opportunity to play the games and get candy, Whitfield had them go into the gymnasium for the second half of the evening. With music playing, Whitfield and Gragery Tyler, a recreation center worker, danced and got the children involved in winning prizes, dancing and having fun.

"When a community comes together, they stick together," Mrs. Murriell said. "There is a great sense of community here. I feel like I'm related to everyone."