Guests attending the fifth annual Cops & Goblins Halloween celebration can masquerade in costume and enjoy free cheeseburgers and slices of pizza, but perhaps most important is the lesson for children — that police officers are their friends.
“We want the kids to come up and interact with us. We want them to know we’re there to help. We want kids to run to us and not away from us,” said Officer Rhys Bradshaw, public information officer for the Ocean View Police Department, about the event, which is planned for 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, in John West Park. (In the event of rain, it will be held on Oct. 27 instead.)
“The police department will be handing out book bags, water bottles, little police cars. All the officers will be there, and we’ll have firefighters, paramedics. They can see the police cars,” Bradshaw noted.
“What I like about it is it’s 100 percent free,” Bradshaw said of Cops & Goblins, which is jointly sponsored by the Town and police department, who spend about $10,000 on it.
Businesses also donate, including Rita’s Italian Ice, Hocker’s Super Center, Papa John’s Pizza and Pepsi Bottling Ventures in Salisbury, Md., all supplying foods and drinks.
Participating businesses and organizations will also have tables with information and gifts for children.
Also planned are horseback riding, a petting zoo, carnival rides, a disc jockey playing music, pumpkin decorating and costume contests.
“All the kids come in their costumes. Some of the vendors get dressed up. We have a costume contest, and we hand out medals for the best costume and best all-around costume. The kids get free candy, free ice cream,” Bradshaw said.
The first year, a few hundred people attended, but Cops & Goblins now attracts more than 1,000, and it’s growing.
“There won’t be anything scary — no haunted house or anything. It’s during the day, so it’s not a scary event,” Bradshaw emphasized. “It’s just a lot of fun.”
By Susan Canfora