It might be a week and a half until Halloween, but all the little ghouls and goblins were out at the State Museum in Columbia on Saturday.
The annual Tricks and Treats program has become something of a must-do event for parents – especially those with small children.
“I think it’s really important these days to have things like this,” said Sarah Smith, whose 7-year-old daughter, Lilly Maunz, was having fun coloring at the arts and crafts area set up just inside the entryway of the historic Mills Building. “You don’t want to take them door-to-door anymore.”
Smith, who said she had not taken Lilly trick-or-treating since she was 3, said it could sometimes be difficult for parents of younger children to find fun, safe and age-appropriate activities this time of year.
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Smith said Lilly had once enjoyed trick-or-treating at some of the area malls.
“But now it seems like all they have are haunted houses,” she said. “And those can be too scary for kids her age. I know because I worked at one.”
Now Smith skips the tradition of trick-or-treating altogether, opting to take Lilly to such events as Boo at the Zoo that tend to be better suited for those Lilly’s age.
“This also makes it easier than if we had to organize trick-or-treating with a group of parents,” she said.
Program coordinator Celeste Wszola said she has seen the event grow in popularity over the years as more parents of younger children turn to organized events for “safer, more family-friendly activities.”
Now more than 10 years later, Tricks and Treats offers a range of activities from pumpkin painting to games and even a scavenger hunt. Saturday’s event also introduced young trick-or-treaters to the Mexican celebration, “Dia de los Muertos” or Day of the Dead.
Celebrated in most regions of Mexico on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, Dia de los Muertos pays homage to the deceased. Families light candles or lay flowers around photos of loved ones who have died and make traditional foods such as the sweet pan de muerto, or “bread of the dead.”
Jennifer Roseborough, who brought her son, two daughters and two nieces to the museum to see the new exhibit “Secrets of the Maya,” liked that there was something else fun as well as educational for younger children.
“We didn’t realize this was going on,” she said. The children, ranging from ages 5 to 8, were taking turns dancing to the Monster Mash. “They’re having lots of fun, so this is definitely a bonus.”
Tricks and Treats continues next Saturday at the museum.
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.