Local churches offer holiday events

Many area churches, including Parkland Baptist Church, shown here with items ready for games, are offering alternatives to trick-or-treating for children on Halloween. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.

By Darrell Todd Maurina

While many area children will be walking around next week to collect trick-or-treat candy, there are alternatives.
One of the largest and longest-running Halloween-alternative events is held at Clovis’ Central Baptist Church, where children’s ministries director Sara Brown expects almost as many children on Oct. 31 as the church sees at its usual Sunday morning services.
Last year’s event drew 750 people to what her church bills as its Annual Fall Festival. Brown said organizers of this year’s event have separated preschoolers and elementary students to reduce hallway crowding. Both will receive free hot dogs, photos, popcorn, and cotton candy, and have games tailored to their ages.
The only rule: no scary costumes.
“For our preschoolers through kindergarten, we have a pumpkin patch with little carnival games. We have two big air games for them, the bounce house and obstacle course,” Brown said. “For our elementary age kids, grades 1 to 6, we’ll be having a free hot dog supper also and sports-type games in our worship center, which include air games like the joust. They get on a big air pillow, get on a stool above the pillow with a big foam bat, and try to hit each other off the stool.”
Other games for older kids include a football throw, basketball throw, wiffle ball throw, golf putting, and a giant box maze. Older children will also receive a bag of candy, prizes, religious tracts, and a ticket to return the following Friday, Nov. 7, for a family movie night. Brown said a collection will also be taken for the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home.
Why do children and parents come?
“It’s fun and it’s family oriented, and parents know their kids will be safe here,” Brown said.
Patti Poarch, children’s minister at Parkland Baptist Church, said her church has a similar focus on fun activities for children and will give away a number of prizes, including a random drawing held for a combination TV/VCR. The winner will be notified on Nov. 1.
During Parkland’s Children’s Fall Festival on Oct. 31, children will also have the opportunity to win prizes based on their costumes.
“I will walk around and give out prizes for the costumes I find cute and non-scary,” Poarch said. “They will come up with some real cute things, I tell you.”
Poarch said the event offers candy and more than 30 different games for children plus free burritos from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Last year’s event attracted about 200 with a target age range of birth through sixth grade.
“We don’t really have a view on Halloween but we like to provide this service to the community as an alternative to Halloween,” Poarch said. “We make a big deal out of it.”
Those who’d like a smaller Halloween event may want to visit Trinity United Methodist Church, where organizers host a fall festival with members decorating their cars and handing out candy from their car trunks in what the church calls a “Trunk or Treat” event. The event was canceled last year, but event organizer Angie Robbs said previous year’s attendance averaged about 40.
“We’re going to have a food booth with snacks, cookies, and some games like ring toss inside the fellowship hall,” said youth director Lance Robbins. “We are having something for the little kids to do. A lot of times the parents are scared to take kids out to different people’s houses but they will trust churches not to have bad candy.”
Robbs said the event has been going on for at least 15 years since she was a child.
“Costumes are not required,” Robbs said. “We just want to provide a safe environment for children to come to on Halloween where the parents won’t be worried and they can come to have a good time.”

Church events:

Parkland Baptist Church
Children’s Fall Festival
921 Parkland Drive
Times: Burritos served from 5:30 to 6 p.m.,
game booths from 6 to 8 p.m.
Contact: 762-1779
Ages: infant to sixth grade
Central Baptist Church
Fall Festival
2501 N. Norris
Time: 6 to 8 p.m.
Contact: 762-4727
Ages: infant to sixth grade
Trinity United Methodist Church
Where: 1320 W. 21st St.
Time: 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Contact: 763-7450
Ages: elementary school

Immanuel Lutheran Church
Reformation Pumpkin Party
1021 N. Prince
Time: 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Contact: 763-4526
Ages: any age

Faith Christian Family Church
Harvest Party
3401 N. Norris
Time: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Contact: 762-7751
Ages: 3 years to sixth grade

True Victory Church of God in Christ
Holy Night
622 N. Main
Time: 6 to 8 p.m.
Contact: 769-2461
Age: up to teenage.
No costumes requested

First Assembly of God
Harvest Festival
517 W. 21st St.
Time: 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Contact: 763-3221
Ages: any age