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updated: 10/19/2011 2:53 PM

Wheaton Community Center ready for scary good time

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The days of walking the neighborhoods at all hours of the night on Halloween are in the past because of increased safety concerns.

Most cities now regulate when children can be out on the street collecting their candy treasure trove.

But Wheaton Park District hopes to offer area families and their children a safe place to show off their costumes and collect some sweet treats.

For the fourth year, the district will present "Halloween Happening" from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, at the Wheaton Community Center, 1777 S. Blanchard St. The community center will transform into a scary good time, with Halloween-themed vehicles in the parking lot, a juggling show and a costume pageant. The locker room will become a character walk, with children allowed to walk through and meet various fictional characters.

The event had been a haunted house until four years ago, when the park district decided to tailor it to younger kids.

"We found our community needed more for the little ones," recreation supervisor Jen Bruggeman said. "The little ones wanted another reason to wear their costume out."

Bruggeman said she enjoys seeing families dress in group outfits for the costume contest. She said she usually sees a "dead princess, of some sort" and plenty of Harry Potter characters. The one that sticks out to her, however, is the parent dressed as a UPS driver carrying a baby dressed as a box delivery.

But one of the biggest draws for the event is just the opportunity to meet others in the city, Bruggeman said.

"It's a service-oriented event offering families a great time out with their kids," she said. "It's a lot of parents chit-chatting. You get to be familiar with the type of people you would meet on a daily basis."

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