BRADENTON -- With the help of colorful costumes and makeup, children transformed into real-life princesses, superheroes and even zombies during the 12th annual Goblin Gathering on Friday evening.
Hosted by the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources, this year's event was held in conjunction with National Night Out, which raises awareness of community policing and aims to strengthen the connection between citizens and law enforcement. The event, which featured games, children's activities, a costume contest and food, was held at G.T. Bray Park, 5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton.
Kelsi Bailey, 10, and her sister, Charlie, 8, stood with their parents, Maria and Jeff.
"We love trick-or-treating and we love doing this every year," said Kelsi, whose face was painted white and gray.
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Fake blood oozed from Kelsi's eyes and mouth. She was dressed as a zombie cheerleader.
Charlie, a third-grader at Jessie P. Miller Elementary School, was dressed as a prom queen. Her face was painted the same as her sister's.
"I'm dead," she said melodramatically.
Members of the Florida Highway Patrol, Bradenton Police Department and Manatee County Search and Rescue had a presence at the festival, some with handy information and demonstrations for families.
Bradenton Fire Department EMT/firefighter Dan Hedgeman stood beside a fire truck. He said he had the privilege of participating in National Night Out before.
"I think it's beautiful; it draws the community a little closer," he said. "And also, all the services -- both county and the city, in this case -- we get a chance to rub elbows and do something positive for the community."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.