Mall in Columbia offers Halloween treat

Do you remember your first time trick-or-treating on Halloween?

For most, it probably consisted of patrolling the neighborhood, mom and dad in tow, on a spooky and chilly Halloween night.

But what may have been a care-free, chocolate-filled dream for you was probably a worrisome nightmare for mom and dad.

Between the scary decorations, the threat of inclement weather and the uncertainty of strange houses, there are any number of concerns a fretting parent might have on Halloween night.

Luckily for residents of the greater Columbia community, there is an alternative.

For over 20 years, the Columbia mall has offered parents an alternative to traditional trick-or-treating, a daytime event on the Saturday before Halloween.

Columbia resident Michelle Kelsey, 46, accompanied by daughter Isabella, 6, and son Logan, 4, said she's been attending the event for as long as she can remember.

"It's safer, brighter and not as scary to the kids," Kelsey said. "The little kids prefer this to traditional Halloween, plus I love to see all the costumes."

Kelsey was just one of nearly 1,500 people who attended the mall's trick-or-treating event and Halloween magic show on Saturday.

According to mall Manager Michelle Jose, over 40 stores participated in the trick-or-treat, which she called a long-standing mall tradition.

"For us, it's all about the children and a chance to give them a nice Halloween event," Jose said. "The kids love it, the stores love it, hopefully the parents love it and we love it, too."

With Hurricane Sandy threatening, Jose said, the mall ended up having more participants than anticipated. She said the mall was expecting to draw about 900 participants, closer to last year's mark.

Ayana Lumdy, 23, of Jessup, brought her daughter, little brother and nephew to the event for the first time, in part, because of Hurricane Sandy.

"It's safer to go trick-or-treating in the mall," Lumdy said. "With Sandy coming, I don't want to take the kids outside."

Jacquelyn DeBella, 37, of Laurel, is a teacher at Lake Elkhorn and Cradlerock schools in Columbia who brought her 2-year-old son Nicolo to the event.

"It's a very family-friendly event, you know it's going to be safe and you don't have to worry about going to random houses," DeBella said.

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