safety

Three-year-old Chloe Momanis, dressed as Tinker Bell, giggles as Gainesville Police Officer Ernest Graham readies a trick-or-treat package of candy, a slap bracelet and a free baggie to give her on Thursday evening at Gainesville Fire Rescue’s 11th annual Screaming for Safety event near its headquarters, located at 1025 NE 13th St.

David Hoffman / Alligator Staff

Dressed as Batman, BB-8 droids and Disney princesses, Halloween came early for dozens of trick-or-treaters.

Gainesville Fire Rescue hosted its 11th annual Screaming for Safety event from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Safety City campus next to its headquarters, located at 1025 NE 13th St., for about 200 residents Thursday. Safety City, co-owned by GFR and the Kiwanis Club of Gainesville, has a miniature intersection with a traffic light and crosswalks to teach pedestrian safety to kindergartners.

Costumed children roamed the streets with buckets full of candy and lined up to take turns sitting in a GFR fire truck. Families posed for pictures at the purple blow-up castle doorway outlining the campus’ front entrance.

Partnered with 13 other community groups, including law enforcement and local nonprofits, GFR held the event to honor fire prevention week, said Krista Ott, a GFR fire and life safety educator.

“It’s a week where pretty much every fire department in the United States really tries to focus on a hard push for fire safety and prevention information,” Ott said. “Screaming for Safety provides us an opportunity to get out safety information as well as have the kids have a safe place to trick or treat.”

Each community group had a station at the event where volunteers gave away candy and offered parents Halloween-night safety tips.

Ashley and Corey Smith pushed 5-month-old Caleb in a bright orange stroller while walking behind their three other children — Josh, 9, Joseph, 7, both dressed in full-fledged Captain America suits, and Aubrey, 3, who donned a white princess dress.

Ashley Smith said this is the third year she’s brought her family to the event.

“We get good information here, especially day care stuff this year,” Ashley Smith, 28, said referring to Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County’s station.

At the Gainesville Police station, Officers Ernest Graham and Nicole Lardner sat in lawn chairs around a patrol car, handing out candy, baggies and police badges to superheroes and witches walking by.

Lardner said they ran out of their first supply of candy within 30 minutes.

“It’s really an insane amount of candy, but the kids are having fun,” she said. “That’s all that counts.”

Staff Writer

David Hoffman covers crime and metro for The Alligator. A rising UF history and economics senior, the 21-year-old lives and breathes for classy Parks and Recreation references and watching live performances of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on YouTube.