By Geri Gibbons, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Trick or treating on Public Square Monday evening drew residents from all over the area to enjoy a time of fun and fellowship.
Kendra Henderson, just 13 weeks old, made her way down Main Street, clad in a yellow Pikachu costume and a smile.
Attendance at the event seemed to be a family affair with mother Danielle, also dressed as a Pikachu, and grandmother Paula Drevenik taking time for an extra hug or simply to allow Kendra’s small hand to wrap around her finger, if only for a second.
Drevenik said the event was an opportunity to make a memory, take pictures and enjoy the evening.
“She’s my first grandbaby,” said Devenik, smiling under sparkling lights set up especially for the event.
Patty Hughes, special events coordinator for the city, said the first-ever event was organized to provide young residents a chance to enjoy Halloween in a safe setting.
In addition to organizations that set up on the square, about 20 area businesses participated in the event, providing “treats” ranging from candy to small toys.
Hughes said at least 1,000 people attended the event.
“I think that it’s because people feel safe here at the square,” she said.
There was an increased police presence for the event, with officers giving out glow sticks to young participants.
Police Chief Marcella Lendacky said her officers “not only are ensuring safety, they’re having a blast.”
Shavonn Davis said her 2-year-old granddaughter, Alajah Davis, dressed as Supergirl, was simply enjoying being around other children.
“I appreciate coming out to a community event,” said Davis. “It’s not even about the candy; we’re just having fun.”
Davis took a minute to look back on her own childhood when children went trick-or-treating in their own neighborhoods, sometimes without parents.
“Now you have to think about safety,” she said. “This is perfect for that.”
Marcella Padagomas and Deb Debonis, from Downtown Arts, set up a stand on the square, giving out candy and providing information about the arts center on North Franklin Street.
Padagomas, dressed as a snow queen, said the organization wanted to be a part of the community, and its members had looked forward to the event as a chance to have fun.
Kelly Welsch, of Wilkes-Barre, was accompanied by her entire family, all attired in a Mary Poppins theme.
Dressed as Poppins herself, Walsh said, “This is a nice opportunity to have fun in a safe environment.”
Tyler Kepler, of Exeter, stood out a bit, costumed as McDonald’s french fries in the brightest of yellow and red hues.
Dad Todd Kepler said both he and his son had worked on the costume together for several hours.
The event seemed to provide opportunity for the city to combine the nostalgia of the holiday with the realism of the contemporary need for safety.
“This worked out really well,” said Hughes. “For those attending, for businesses, for the city.”