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Crowds slam Halloween stroll
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Young trick-or-treaters work one of the beggar stations set up downtown. - photo by Photo by Lawrence Dorsey

Costumed kids swarmed downtown Hinesville Friday for thrills and tricks and treats at the fourth annual Scarecrow Stroll and Beggars Night.
The event, sponsored by the Hinesville Downtown Development Association, drew more than 54 businesses and organizations together to provide a safe and early Halloween experience.
“I can’t get anyone to give me an estimate, they’re overwhelmed — it’s crazy,” HDDA program assistant Katrina Barrow said about size of the crowd.
She said the event is popular, “because it’s Halloween to begin with, and it’s already something people look forward to on top of coming downtown for the atmosphere and fun.”
Volunteers — including Captain Jack Sparrow and some Liberty County “jail inmates” — handed out candy at beggars’ stations, offered face painting and gave scary makeovers.
While turnout was unprecedented, it did come with one snag. Winds from Hurricane Sandy’s outer bands halted the showing of “The Goonies.”
Leah Poole, chairwoman of the Hinesville Area Arts Council, which was sponsoring the movie, said the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency was reporting increasing winds and possible showers between 7-10 p.m., when the screening was set to take place.
Hayrides, bouncy houses and a creepy carnival kept the beggars busy in between candy collections.
More than 60 people flaunted their creativity and creepiness in a costume contest sponsored by The Heritage Bank.
The categories for under 4 years old and 5-12 drew the most participants with classics like Disney characters and pirates.
When 2-year-old Hunter Rhoden won for his sock puppet costume, his family members cheered.
“He was supposed to be Spiderman, but he didn’t like the mask,” Hunter’s mom, Krystal Rhoden, said. The toddler has a big sock monkey at home, so family members thought it would be a good substitute.
Gage Salter, 5, charmed the crowd with his bashful demeanor and his taped-glasses nerd look. The Smiley Elementary School kindergartener took the top spot in his age group.
“He had a different costume earlier that he wore to school. The glasses were part of it and he was too hot in his other outfit, so we just decided to hike up his shorts, put on his shoes, and spike up his nerdy hairdo in the back and tape up his glasses,” his dad, Stanley Appelt, said. “He was supposed to be a nerdy chick magnet.”
When asked what his favorite part of the night was, Gage grinned and held up his goody-bag prize.
“I won!” he exclaimed.
Gage’s mom, Jeanie Appelt, said the family loved the event for its “good family fun.”
Some thrill seekers got an in-your-face experience with zombies when Inspirations Performance Studio dancers performed an adaptation of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Dancers of all ages and skill sets practiced about four weeks before taking it public, according to Juanita Lowery, the studio’s artistic director who choreographed the number.
After the coffin closed for the first time, Lowery welcomed everyone to join in for an encore that earned bellowing laughs from the crowd.

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