MANATEE -- There's a lot to do during the Halloween holiday throughout Manatee County.
On Friday, the CrimeStoppers of Manatee County will host the 12th Annual Halloween Safe Kids Night at the Manatee County Fairgrounds, 1402 14th Ave. W., Palmetto. Admission and parking is free for the event, which takes place from 6 to 9:30 p.m.
"The idea was, when we originally did this, to have a safe alternative for children to be able to come with their families (on Halloween)," said Frank Brunner, executive director of Manatee CrimeStoppers. "Some communities don't have sidewalks because of the way they were developed -- and other parts (of the county) don't have street lights."
CrimeStoppers has partnered with a slew of government agencies, community groups and civic organizations that will each have a booth with treats for children and information on the services they provide.
Safe Kids Night will also feature vehicles from police, fire, EMS and other public safety equipment. According to Brunner, it's a way for children and their families to get closer to these entities and to ask questions.
On Anna Maria Island, the public is invited to the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Trail of Treats. The event, held at the organization's office, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, begins at 3:30 p.m. President and CEO Mary Ann Brockman said Trail of Treats is an safe alternative to trick-or-treating -- parents who attend are given lists of participating businesses who are dishing out treats.
"It's easier for the parents to take them around so they know who is involved. ... They know exactly where to take their children," she said. "They join in this trail and they know that whatever they get from them is not going to hurt them."
A children's costume contest for babies to middle school-aged children will begin at 3:30 p.m. At 4:00, trophies and awards will be given
to winners, and those who want to start the trail can do so. The trail in Holmes Beach ends at 6 p.m., but Brockman said parents will be informed of where else to go in Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria until 7 p.m. "to get the most bang out of their time."
From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Anna Maria Elementary School, 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, will host a haunted house in the school's auditorium. The event is sponsored by the school's Parent Teacher Organization.
In Bradenton, the York Drive Project is presenting "Portraits of ... TERROR" through Saturday. The event, held at 3512 York Drive W., Bradenton, features a labyrinth of red doors that visitors enter, There is a $5 donation for entry, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit Safe Children Coalition.
Halloween Trick-or-Treat in the Village will take place Friday at Village of the Arts, 1113 12th St. W., Bradenton. The event, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m., will feature over 20 participating restaurants, stops and galleries giving out treats for children who pass through. There will also be face-painting for children -- if they dare.
Also in Manatee County, Ghostly musicians and spine-tingling actors will spread holiday cheer during the Halloween Spooktacular Concert and Trick or Treat at 6:30 p.m. Friday at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, Neel Performing Arts Center, 5840 26th St. W. The event is open to the public.
Revelers are invited to wear their Halloween finery and join in a costume parade.
General admission to this family friendly event is one canned food item for the Food Bank of Manatee County. Information: Call 941-752-5252 or 941-752-5351.
And the Primrose School at Lakewood Ranch will celebrate Halloween with a parade of costumes at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the school playground, 9127 Town Center Parkway.
Information: Call Sharon Frank at 941-373-6363 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.