PALMETTO -- Stacey Arnold's idea to dress up her whole family up as the Flintstones for Halloween began with her 2-year-old daughter, Alexis.
The 31-year-old mom of three thought her youngest would look so cute as Pebbles.
Arnold then figured it would be a good group costume with her husband, Brad, dressed as Fred, she as Wilma, her 10-year-old son, Britton, as neighbor Bamm-Bamm Rubble and 8-year-old son, Eyon, as Fred's small best friend, Barney Rubble.
The family from Palmetto was among hundreds of others who attended the 12th annual Halloween Safe Kids Night. The event organized
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by the Crime Stoppers of Manatee County was held at the Manatee County Fairgrounds, 1402 14th Ave. W., Palmetto.
Arnold, who pushed Alexis in a Stone age-themed stroller complete with jagged cloth at its top, said it was the family's second time attending the event in lieu of traditional trick-or-treating.
"This is safer and it's not door to door ... I don't want to trust the people from house to house," Arnold said. "This is safe, supervised ... better than running the streets."
On Friday, hundreds of children dressed up in their Halloween best for the 12th Annual Halloween Safe Kids Night.
The event, which was organized by the Crime Stoppers of Manatee County, was set at the Manatee County Fairgrounds, 1402 14th Ave. W., Palmetto. As part of the event, vehicles from police, fire and EMS were parked at the fairgrounds. Representatives passed out treats to children and answered any questions they may have had.
Outside, officers of the Palmetto Police Department stood by a table topped with rows of pink and green bicycle helmets donated by Amscot. Children passed by mostly for the treats, but a few picked helmets.
There were also two cars beside the officers -- a race car and another car used by Roy Lovett, the school resource officer at Lincoln Middle School in Palmetto. Lovett is involved in Beat the Heat, a national organization comprised of police officers and firefighters who bring educational programs using hot cars to gain the initial interest
"Kids will respond easily to the car and it kind of breaks those barriers down," Lovett said.
As a SRO officer, Lovett said he sees a lot of children who are intimidated by law enforcement.
"The car seems to break the ice enough where it lets them come in and talk to me," he said. "Once you can build that rapport, the kids will get to know who you are and understand what we do and not be afraid of us."
Nearby, Holmes Beach Police Chief William Tokajer passed out Jolly Ranchers, Dots, and Tootsie Rolls to children. Along with a vehicle, his team had brought the department's boat.
"This gives them an oportunity to see us in a more pleasant atmosphere where they get some candy and they can interact with us and see some of the different equipment that each of the agencies have," he said, pointing at his department's boat and then at a Manatee County Sheriff's Office motorcycle. "It lets them see the other side of law enforcement."
Inside the Fairgrounds' Exhibition Hall, a slew of government agencies, community groups and civic organizations each had with treats for children and information on services they provide.
Shominique Rodgers, 27, of Parrish, stood in line for candy with her 7-year-old son. Jalen Bryant. and 10-year-old cousin. Kani Kelly. It was their second year at Safe Kids Night. Rodgers said the event is much safer than walking around her neighborhood.
Both boys were dressed as Creepers from the video game "Minecraft" -- they had green pixelated cardboard boxes over their heads. It was their idea.
"I laughed because I said, 'You could have been anything, but you decided to be a cardboard head,'" she said, "but they're addicted to 'Minecraft' so I let them pick whatever they want."
Nearby, 10-year-old Dalia Palacios was dressed as a Honey Swamp doll from Monster High. She wore a teal wig and a long-sleeved dress with a Peter Pan collar. Her uncle had offered to do her makeup -- teal powder over her brows and on her cheeks and purple eyeshadow.
"I thought it was cool and pretty," she said. "It brought out my hair and my dress and stuff."
Dressed as Tinkerbell, Na'Zaria Cheaves stood in line for candy with her family. The 4-year-old pointed proudly to her light-green costume and said she liked it. Asked what else she liked, Na'Zaria patted her blond wig, which was in the classic Tinkerbell boy crop.
"It feels real," she said.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.