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Fun, safe trick-or-treating at Friendly Forest

by Phil Custodio

October 12, 2011

From left are Jeff Morris, recreation programmer, and Clarkston Optimists Jeffrey Reed and Joan Patterson, with the head of Sylvester the Cat, which will be filled by a volunteer at Friendly Forest. Photo by Phil Custodio
Trick-or-treating comes early at Friendly Forest in Clintonwood Park, 3-6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 22.

"Three years ago, it was on the chopping block because it was losing money," said Jeff Morris, recreation programmer with Independence Township Parks and Recreation. "Clarkston Optimists stepped up and we partnered with them."

Last year, the Optimist handled ticket sales and sponsorships, as well as provided volunteers. This year, Parks and Rec is handling tickets and sponsorships while the Optimists provide volunteers.

"They were able to supply most if not all staffing with volunteers," Morris said.

About 50 volunteers are set this year, including about 25 Junior Optimists from Clarkston Junior High and Clarkston High students in the Octagon Club.

"It's a great event," said Jeff Reed, Optimist chair of the event.

"It's fun to volunteer for you dress up in a costume and hand out candy or, if you don't want to dress up, you can hand out donuts and cider," Morris said. "It's fun to see kids and a lot of their parents in costumes."

Friendly Forest is a good alternative to neighborhood trick-or-treating, said Optimist Joan Patterson.

"My subdivision doesn't get many trick or treaters, so it's nice to come here and enjoy the holiday," Patterson said. "It's safe and fun, and everyone enjoys it."

"I live on M-15 and there's no trick or treating there," said Reed, whose children will be wearing their Darth Vader and Cookie Monster costumes.

Tickets for children 2-9 years old are $6, resident youth; and $8, non-resident youth. Admission is free for adults.

They are sold for specific, 15-minute intervals, and must be purchased in advance at the parks and rec office, 6483 Waldon Center Drive. Deadline to purchase is Friday, Oct. 21. Availability is limited.

Children get a goodie bag at the beginning of the trail in Clintonwood Park, 6000 Clarkston Road.

They go trick or treating at stations staffed by costumed characters from movies, television, and fairy tales, and get cider and doughnuts at the end.

"We changed up the stations and have some new costumes," Morris said.

Rain date is Sunday, Oct. 23. Call 248-625-8223 for more information.