The Ocean View Police Department is hosting its annual Cops and Goblins festival this weekend, in the hopes of giving area kids a safe environment in which to trick-or-treat.
“In this day and age, with everything going on, it’s good for the community to come out and meet us and see us on a more personal level, rather than just us pulling people over for a traffic violation or responding for calls for service,” said OVPD Sgt. Rhys Bradshaw. “Most of our families are there, so they see us with them, as see us as a human being.”
The event will be held on Sunday, October 28 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in John West Park. Those who attend will be able to meet with local law enforcement personnel, tour police and fire vehicles. Other agencies in attendance will include Bethany Beach Police Department and Delaware State Police.
Attendees will be able to enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, pumpkin decorating, carnival games, and more. Barnhill Preserve will be attending the event with their kangaroo, and the Delaware Department of Resources and Natural Control will be in attendance with their wildlife trailer.
The Ocean View Historical Society’s complex, adjacent to the park, will be open with docents, so families can learn about the non-profit and how the poultry industry was accidentally born in the town.
“They’re always open during our events,” said Bradshaw. “It’s just more for families to do.”
Vendors, like Lord Baltimore Elementary School and the Lions Club, will be set up throughout the park, handing out treats to children.
At 2:30 p.m., a costume contest will be held, giving awards for Best Cop Costume, Best Goblin Costume, and Best Overall Costume. The contest will be divided up into age groups 5 and under; ages 6-7; 8-9; and 10-12.
Those who attend the event will also be able to enjoy some free eats, courtesy of Taco Taco, Hocker’s BBQ, Papa John’s and Rita’s Italian Ice.
“It’s the community-relation aspect—getting out to meet the people of Ocean View in a more approachable way. We love interacting with the kids. They see us a lot driving around or at the school but this will be on a more personal level,” said Bradshaw. “I enjoy letting the kids see me at a community event, not on police-working time. The kids seem to enjoy that, too.”
OFC AnnMarie Dalton agreed, saying while the officers are in Lord Baltimore on a daily basis during the school year, it’s always great to see the kids outside of school.
“The kids at LB, I know they look forward to this event. I’ve seen them days after at the school, ‘oh, we had so much fun!’ They love seeing us at the park, outside of school. It’s nice to just relate to the community and it not be about our work. Yes, it’s the police putting it together but I can sit and have lunch with someone rather than taking a complaint or giving a traffic ticket.”
As a community policing event, Dalton said the festival is an excellent way for law enforcement to interact with the community outside of their day-to-day duties as officers.
“I enjoy having a conversation that has nothing to do with police work, especially at these events. You make contact with parents, kids, citizens, a lot of times it’s in a negative way—either you’re pulling them over or you’re taking a report. It’s nice to actually have a conversation not related to police work. You’re able to just be a person with them; talk about their family or something completely unrelated.
“That’s what I think a lot of police departments should strive for. Dagsboro and Milton does their Night Out. Those things are good for citizens to just come, hang out and get to have a conversation. Maybe they didn’t have a good encounter and this is their opportunity to just speak to us.”
Dalton said the department looks forward to the event every year, and hopes families will enjoy it just as much as the officers.
“This is a way for us to give back to the community. Everything is free,” she said. “It’s a way for people to take their kids out for the day in a safe environment and just have fun. It gives the kids something to look forward to, and we look forward to it, too.”
John West Park is located at 32 West Avenue in Ocean View. For more information about the event visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/2619233118090441 or call OVPD at (302) 539-1111.
By Maria Counts