PALMETTO -- A Halloween costume doesn't have to be elaborate to be great.
Longboat Key Police Department Officer Dennis Silverio went to the Crime Stoppers 11th Annual Halloween Safe Kids Night at the Palmetto Fairgrounds as the "village goofy guy" Thursday night wearing a wig, green camouflage T-shirt and funny false teeth.
With his hulking shoulders and expressive face, he looked so authentic he almost fooled friends.
"Doesn't Longboat Key have a dental plan?" Holmes Beach Police Chief William Tokajer asked Silverio when he finally recognized him.
The Silverios, who may have won the unofficial award for best-costumed family, were among a crowd of more than 1,000 for the event, which was making its debut at the Fairgrounds' Exhibition Hall.
Due to a scheduling conflict, the Bradenton Auditorium couldn't play host to the Crime Stoppers event this Halloween.
Adults and little ones, nearly everyone in costume, poured into the Hall, which featured a mini-carnival inside. Jumpy King, a event sponsor, supplied a giant slide and bounce houses to the children's delight.
Candy flowed from about two dozen spooky decorated sponsor booths such as Hope Family Services, where workers Jill Caponi and Kristina Tincher passed out candy and a safety plan game.
The DeSoto Crewe was on hand and songs, like "Addams Family Theme Song," "Monster Mash" and "Werewolves of London" put everyone in a Frankenstein-like stomping mood.
"As fast as we can give it out, it's going," said Bill Gargiulo, a Crime Stoppers' board member, who was working the free popcorn booth with his wife, Suzie. "Judging by the size of the crowd and the laughter, I'd say we were a hit at the Fairgrounds this year."
But, of course, the costumes are always the big thing at Halloween.
Frank Brunner, executive director of Crime Stoppers, said the most popular costumes were super heroes.
"Marvel's Avengers were big along with Spider-Man, The Hulk, Captain America and Ironman," Brunner said.
A lot of children also went as Power Rangers, princesses, fairies and lady bugs.
The Silverios, who live in Palmetto, were led by dad's get-up. But Dennis' wife, Jenny Silverio, was no slacker in her old woman outfit carrying a "Lost Dog" sign. Except the lost dog was actually stuck to her ample (in costume) backside and she couldn't see it.
The Silverio's 8-year-old, Isabella, was a glowing Cleopatra. Isabella's older sister did not want to admit she was part of their family.
"She's a teenager," said Jenny Silverio with a grin.
Ariya Charles, 2, who went as a lady bug with superpowers, was the perfect example of why the Safe Kids Night is popular. It was her first trick or treat, said her mom, Kiari Lee.
"I heard about it on Bradenton moms helping moms," Lee said. "We live near McKechnie Field and don't have bright lights on our street and I wanted her to be safe and see other kids."
Lee sewed Ariya's entire costume, including a wand knit out of a fly swatter.
Daniela Hernandez of Palmetto dressed as Minnie Mouse. She brought her family, including husband, Pedro, dressed as Mario, daughter, Michelle, dressed as Hello Kitty and son, Adrian, as Red Ranger, because: "It's safe for kids, you see more families and it starts earlier."
The free three-hour event ended at 8:30 p.m.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or via Twitter at RichardDymond.