Scarecrows, beggars and thousands of their ghoulish friends invaded downtown Hinesville on Friday for the third annual Scarecrow Stroll and Beggars Night, organized by the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority.
Downtown businesses joined in the Halloween fun by decorating their storefronts with a variety of scarecrow displays, hay bales, pumpkins, spiderwebs and booths, where employees, law-enforcement officers and volunteers offered candy to trick-or-treaters.
Rather than a traditional night of house-to-house stops, which might not always be safe for children, the city of Hinesville’s annual event allows children and parents to dress up and collect sweets and trinkets at participating downtown businesses. Many kids, like Montana Glasgow, 7, who was dressed as the grim reaper, hurried from booth to booth, filling their bags with goodies. Montana’s father, Tommy Glasgow, laughed as he called to his excited son to slow down and wait for him.
Other parents got into the spirit by sporting costumes themselves. Crystal Pounder dressed as Wilma Flintstone along with her "witch" daughter, Kyleigh, 3, and son, Gavin, who wore an all-black costume. Kame Varnedoe dressed to match her "pirate" daughter, Jade, 4. Some children, however, stole the show by outdoing their parents and siblings, including a shy young fellow dressed as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and Yvette Alexander, 6, a little witch whose father, Nicholas Alexander, proudly led her around by the hand.
Hailey Thale, 4, thoroughly enjoyed herself but was especially taken by one particular activity.
"The hayride!" she exclaimed. "But I didn’t get to go on it."
"It was going in the opposite direction when she spotted it," explained Mary Lundy, who led Hailey around to the downtown attractions.
Several ladies from the Liberty County Justice Center dressed as vampires, zombies and witches and handed out candy in front of the center. Liberty County deputies also manned a booth, distributing candy to children who waited in long lines.
Game booths like the hay hunt manned by Billie Blitch of John E. Pytte, P.C., debt relief attorney, and her son James, 17, allowed children a chance to jump into a pile of hay to search for candy, pencils and other trinkets. Nearby, Realty Executive Liberty’s Billy Strickland, who was dressed as Fred Flintstone, and Janie Diggs, dressed in a red and black Star Trek outfit, handed out candy to kids and while parents registered to win gift cards.
Hinesville Downtown Development Authority program assistant Katrina Sage marveled at the large crowd drawn to the festivities.
"Obviously, this is a huge success. We definitely had more people than last year, and with tough economic times like these, it was so great to see so many people out supporting downtown Hinesville businesses and merchants," Sage said.
She added that the decorated scarecrows scattered around Bradwell Park and Main Street will remain in place until Nov. 1 to allow area residents plenty of time to check them out.
Fishermen scarecrows greeted The Heritage Bank visitors and two firemen scarecrows appeared to be scaling the wall of the building that houses Uncommon Grounds coffee shop. In Bradwell Park, a werewolf leered at event attendees, and a prisoner corpse sat lifeless outside the Old Liberty County Jail.
The trick-or-treating stroll ran from 4-6 p.m., but other events continued into the evening, including a creepy-crawly exhibit at the old jail, a fall festival at First Baptist Church on Memorial Drive, storytelling by Little Bo Peep, a "Thriller" performance and an outdoor movie on Main Street.
The city of Hinesville’s traditional trick-or-treating is from 6-8 p.m. Monday.
ousands of their ghoulish friends invaded downtown Hinesville on Friday for the third annual Scarecrow Stroll and Beggars Night, organized by the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority.