Halloween in Miami Springs and Virginia Gardens has always been a popular event, but it’s been scaled back in recent years.
The end result has been a safer event, but one that is just as fun for everyone. The latest example was the eighth annual “Spooktacular” Halloween event on Friday, Oct. 25.
Years ago, Miami Springs had Halloween on the Circle and merchants stayed open to give out treats. That faded away after a few years, due mostly to its success, meaning that it brought in droves of people from outside of the community.
For six years, the City of Miami Springs tried having the event at the Miami Springs Golf Course and Country Club and once again success was its downfall. Thousands showed up, many from other communities, and that made the event more expensive and hard to control.
Since the residents of Miami Springs and VG are so benevolent and giving, Halloween night brings hordes of trick-or-treaters from all over the county. Traffic is horrendous and parked vehicles line Curtiss Parkway from the Circle to the golf course. Both children and adults often walk in the streets, obstructing traffic.
Last year police officers said private buses came across the in-bridge and dropped off loads of children, many not so small. A Public Works employee said there was more litter on the Circle than after a festival. However, that situation is not easily solved.
Two years ago, pre-Halloween festivities were moved to the Community Center and Prince Field, and that proved successful — mainly because Special Programs Supervisor Patti Bradley put in controls.
“We wanted to scale it down, make it more family-oriented and we designed it for smaller children,” Bradley said last Friday. “We had about 600 people last year.”
To keep the event safe and orderly, parents had to check in at the Community Center office — it could be done in advance — show proof of residency in Miami Springs or Virginia Gardens and get a plastic bracelet for each child. Bracelets were given free to children up to 5 and for $2 for those 6 to13. Bracelets were $10 for non-residents.
At 6 p.m. a costume contest for different age groups was held in the Community Center with about 100 contestants. Following that, activities on Prince Field included a slide, bounce house, haunted egg hunt, face painting and more up until 9 p.m.
“This is much better for the city and safer for the kids,” said Bradley.
Recreation Director Omar Luna said, “The event was well planned by Patti and the staff,” said Luna. “That’s why the event is a success.”