Ghoulish night at PA Civic Center

Published 10:41 am Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Ghouls, ninjas, superheroes and everything in between were represented Monday night in Port Arthur for Halloween — and, most importantly, it was all done in a safe and organized manner.

The Sixth Annual “Trunk or Treat” event was hosted in the Bob Bowers Civic Center by the Port Arthur Neighborhood Action Council (P.A.N.A.C.) and Port Arthur Police Department (PAPD), along with several other organizations volunteering their time, money and efforts to the festivities.

A strong focus for fun and safety seemed to be the drive behind the Halloween event.

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“You have a great environment, air condition and safety for the kids and parents,” Officer Michael Hebert, one of the principal organizers of the event, said.

“You don’t have to worry about the candy being tainted, about going down a dark street, or worrying about cars and traffic.”

“This is our sixth year doing ‘Trunk or Treat’ with the Port Arthur Blue Santa and P.A.N.A.C. and the Port Arthur Police Department,” Hebert said.

“We started six years ago because we wanted to do something for the community.”

The event was well-attended, with a line of people that went around the Civic Center, and with several volunteers showing up to give out free candy.

Hebert described the first few years as small but growing, until it blew up to the record-breaking attendance that it now carried.

“Last year we had an estimated 2,000 children,” Hebert said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we surpass that this year.”

Hebert was also quick to thank the people and groups who came out to support the event.

“We have so many amazing volunteers,” Hebert said.

He estimated 26 vendors present, who were willing to spend their own money to buy and distribute the large quantities of candy to trunk-or-treaters.

“Every year it gets bigger and bigger,” Hebert said.

Hebert’s favorite costume of the night was a three-year old kid dressed up as a Marine Corps officer.

He said his favorite part of the event was the interaction between the police and the public.

“Police get to mingle with the kids and the people get to have fun with the officers,” Hebert said. “It’s a great way to introduce the children to the police.”

Among the officers in attendance, Jefferson County Constable Precinct 2 Chris Bates seemed to also enjoy the opportunity to meet with the public.

“Every year has grown tremendously,” Bates said of the event.

“We’re working with the school district and social and civil organizations, and trying to get as much candy as possible out there.”

Likewise, Bates said he appreciated the safe environment.

“It’s different and very safe. You have a lot of different options here.

“You also have adults and safety personnel to look out for everyone.”

Bates said, “It’s very exciting. We just wanted to make it fun.”

And it would seem that the fun was not limited to just the children either.

“I have to thank the sheriff’s office for allowing us to ride in the helicopter,” Bates said. “It was pretty cool.”

Rhonda Pickney and Pauline Coumo from Ladyz of Love were present and volunteering for their third year at the Port Arthur event.

“It’s safer for kids and more organized,” Pickney said. “And a lot of superheroes.”

“It’s a good investment with the kids and community,” Coumo said.

When asked what brought them out to volunteer for the event, Pickney responded,

“We’re just giving back and making sure the children go back safe to their homes.”

Coumo agreed, saying that the annual “Trunk or Treat” event was a lot safer than knocking on strangers’ doors in the middle of the night.

“It’s more family-oriented,” Pickney said. “You see more parents out with their children. Not like when we were kids.”

Coumo said that Ladyz of Love try to prepare to have enough candy to give to 5,000 kids; although, it was not always enough.

“I think we ran out of candy last year and had to go to the store to buy some more,” Coumo said. “We ended up coming back with 30 more bags of candy.”

Schyler Wilson and his family were one of several families who came out to the event.

“We came just to get out of the house and have somewhere safe to trick-or-treat.”

It was Wilson’s first time to bring his family out to the event. He said he enjoyed it.

“As long as the kids are happy, I’m happy. It’s just a festive mood.”