The city of La Verne hosted a Halloween carnival for guests and families with special needs on Saturday at Heritage Park at Via De Mansion.
Participants at the event enjoyed carnival-themed food, music and activities, including a tractor ride around the park.
“Events like these provide opportunities for people with special needs to come together and enjoy their time around their peers,” said Robyn Olsen, community services specialist for the city. “When the community sees that, it helps raise awareness.”
Upon entry to the park, the 100 pre-registered guests were given a lanyard, consisting of activity tickets, a photo booth pass and food tickets.
“Everything was very organized,” said Marci Felix, who attended the event with her granddaughter with special needs. “This is the first event that has been very calm, where I feel comfortable letting her walk around without holding her hand.”
One of the activity booths was run by teachers of a La Verne preschool program. There children were able to make their own Halloween necklaces or use stickers to create a pumpkin face.
“Letting the kids do arts and crafts improves motor skills,” said Sally Olsen, a teacher at the booth. “Plus they’re themed for Halloween and this is just another little keepsake to bring home.”
A booth for resources, such as Options for Learning child care organization and the Fairplex, had information regarding accessibility and tutoring.
“This fun and inclusive event helps give the kids a sense of normalcy,” said La Verne preschool program teacher Lauri Balderrama. “They feel like they are special and doing what everyone else gets to do, which I think is important.”
Throughout the event, songs such as “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey and “Movin’ Out” by Billy Joel played, getting everyone in a dancing mood.
Some families wore elaborate superhero group costumes, while others wore individual costumes.
A balloon artist was popular among the younger children, with a balloon fish on a hook, as one of many fun creations.
Kids of all ages enjoyed the carnival, especially when it came time for desserts, which consisted of snow cones and soft-serve ice cream from Mike’s Ice Cream Truck.
Before leaving the event, children were given a mini pumpkin of their choice to take home, along with a decorating kit.
Concurrent to the event was the Heritage Park Pumpkin Patch, a local tradition for the past 31 years.
Families got to shop at the park’s store for pumpkins and other treats such as homemade berry jams.
Brittany Snow can be reached at email@example.com.