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Hundreds flock to Harvest Fest

November 7, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Instead of hitting the dark streets of North Fort Myers in a quest for treats, several hundred people gathered at the North Shore Allience Church for the annual Harvest Fest on Halloween on Thursday.

Families from throughout the area came to enjoy a safe, fun place to spend their Halloween, with bounce houses and games inside and a climbing wall, a trick-or-treat row and even a hay ride on the outside.

Pastor Tim Richter said Harvest Fest is its way to give back to the community and raise awareness of what the church does. He was also thrilled by the turnout on a weeknight.

"There are a lot of people here. It's a beautiful night with great weather. In our area there aren't many sidewalks, so we have hundreds of people who come to a nice, safe environment," Richter said. "We always have people who like to come here and the air conditioning doesn't hurt, either."

Even 30 minutes before the event started, families lined up outside, waiting to get in while volunteers prepared the church inside and out, making sure the corn dogs and bounceables were ready.

Of course, this would never get pulled off without the help of volunteers. Katie Adams, who is a teacher at the daycare center, said she does this event every year, painting the faces of the little ones.

"I love this event. It's a great alternative. It's safe. You can still trick-or-treat, but you have that fun atmosphere with the bounce houses and hay ride," Adams said, who dressed as the Little Mermaid.

Tasha Green, of Lehigh, brought her children after her son's fifth-grade teacher invited him to come.

"It's my first time here and I like it. I only do these events and don't like trick or treating outside," Green said, "This is safer."

Alison Kuski, of Lehigh, said she came to the church as a child and wanted her 8-year-old son, Blake, to experience Harvest Fest the way she did.

"I spent much of my youth here. I came for the safe environment and my son has met a lot of nice people here and that's a bonus," Kuski said. "He's done trick-or-treating before, but we would rather do this."

Mirella Ladaa, 9, loved that she was able to come and have a good time with her family and friends.

"We have Harvest Fest where we get to go on slides, the rock-climbing wall and eat cotton candy," Ladaa said. "Sometimes I don't like trick-or-treating so we come here to play."

Braylynn Draves, 10, came with her family so they could have fun and she could run around with her best friend.

"I think I'll have a lot of fun. I've done trick-or-treating in the past but this is my first time at one of these," Draves said. "It's new to me, but think I'll like being with my friends. Happy Halloween."

The North Shore Alliance Church is at 330 W. Mariana Ave.



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