LAKEWOOD — The Lakewood School District doesn't want their grade school kids to be left out of the seasonal fun on the weekend before Halloween, which is why Lakewood Elementary, English Crossing Elementary and Cougar Creek Elementary have come together again to stage the annual HiJinx Carnival from 6-8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, in the gymnasium of Lakewood High School.
David Campbell, president of the English Crossing Elementary PTA, explained that local PTAs put on this fall carnival for all the families in the Lakewood School District and the surrounding community.
"Our main focus is to provide the students of our schools the chance to come together, in a spirit of friendship and community, in a safe environment for kids," Campbell said. "Since we encourage each of the kids to come in costume, we've arranged for a few local family photographers to capture this moment. The Lakewood High School Drama Department has also agreed to give us a great time of spooky stories throughout the night."
These new features will complement familiar favorites such as games, bouncy houses, raffles and a cake walk, all of which are administered by PTA members and volunteers to whom Campbell expressed his appreciation.
"HiJinx is a great carnival that is completely volunteer-run," Campbell said. "While the PTA is a main sponsor of the event, we recruit local individuals, businesses and other groups to help out with the event, and we always encourage groups and clubs from the high school and middle school to come by and pitch in. The football team, the cheerleaders, Drama and Honor Society, just to name a few, help run our games, paint faces and generally support the elementary school kids."
According to Campbell, a yearly average of 30 adult volunteers are required to set up and tear down the staging for the event, but the majority of volunteers come from high school groups.
"These students really fill each of the booths and help the younger students have a great time," Campbell said.
This year, Lakewood Elementary PTA President Julane Urie suggested a costume exchange, which took place at her school on Tuesday, Oct. 22, and marked the first "Give a Costume, Take a Costume" event for the Lakewood School District.
"It was a huge success," Campbell said. "Anyone with school-age kids probably has a few boxes of costumes from years past that are still in great condition, but are too small for their own kids to wear another year. For many families, these costumes are worn only once, then put into storage, so this was a great way for everyone to get the chance to try a different costume without spending any cash at all."
Especially in light of the country's ongoing economic troubles, Campbell acknowledged that a number of families in the Lakewood School District might not otherwise be able to furnish their children with Halloween costumes.
"We really hope that this gave them a chance to step forward and enjoy this lasting memory," Campbell said.
Looking to the HiJinx Carnival itself, Campbell reiterated that the invitation to this event extends beyond the boundaries of the Lakewood School District, to all grade school-aged kids. "This event isn't about school politics, PTA grants or sports boosters, but rather, it's just about clean safe fun for all families," Campbell said. "In recent times, trick-or-treating has caused anxiety attacks for parents, when they think about sending their kids out door-to-door, so we strive to create a safe place for parents and kids to come and enjoy this holiday."
Although the fall can often turn into a mad dash between various school sports and extracurricular activities, Campbell hopes the community will take the time to treat themselves to one of the largest volunteer-run events presented by local PTAs throughout the year.
"Halloween is a holiday that parents and students should try and fit into their busy schedules," Campbell said. "By encouraging appropriate costumes for all of our families, we hope to allow parents and their children a chance to enjoy this event and celebrate the season."
Lakewood High School is located at 17023 11th Ave. NE in Arlington.