PARKERSBURG - Giving kids and families a safe place to have Halloween-time fun was the focus of the second annual Harvest Festival Wednesday at the Salvation Army in Parkersburg.
More than 100 people, including parents, children and others, gathered in the gymnasium at the 534 Fifth St. facility to play games and eat food.
''The Salvation Army is hosting its annual Harvest Festival which is an alternative to trick-or-treating," said Lt. Mechelle Henry, co-officer of the local corps. ''We host it here in our gym where the kids can come and play in the bouncy houses, play games, win prizes, have candy and more. The kids just come out and have a great time.''
Braylynn Roush, 4, of Parkersburg takes a turn tossing small bean bags during the Harvest Festival Wednesday at the Salvation Army in Parkersburg. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
Money made at the concession stand goes back into the Salvation Army's local youth programs, Henry said.
Last year, about 100 people attended.
This year, they well exceeded that, said Lt. Erik Henry, co-officer of the local corps.
''Obviously, there are more people here this year than there were last year,'' he said. ''It is great to have people here and for them to get out somewhere and give them a safe environment.''
Before the event started, a word of prayer was said outside with everyone who was attending.
''We are just trying to give everyone a safe place to go,'' Erik Henry said.
Glenda Roush of Parkersburg came with her husband and their blended family of six.
''Two of my stepdaughters go to the Salvation Army After School program,'' she said.
The Henrys said they have been publicizing the event through the programs and services.
''The girls wanted to come,'' Roush said, adding they were all having a good time.
Kathy Wigal of Parkersburg brought her children.
Their family attends church at the Salvation Army and had heard about the program.
''The children really wanted to come,'' Wigal said. ''They are having a good time. It keeps them out of trouble.''
Andy Holt of Parkersburg brought his three children to the event.
''First of all we knew it would be safe here,'' he said. ''We really didn't have anywhere else to go.
''I wouldn't be able to take them anywhere else.''
As money is tight, Holt said it was good there was an event like this where people could enjoy themselves.
Holt said the bouncy houses were popular with his children.
''They are having a ball,'' he said. ''Those bouncy houses ... my kids could bounce in those all day long.
''They can get as sugared up as they want; that will wear them out.''
There was a coloring contest, a costume contest and games.
''At the end, we do a little devotional to remind people that what we do is all about Christ,'' Mechelle Henry said. ''We want people to know that we are a church and we open our doors to anybody.''