Jordyn Jones adjusted her blue princess crown Monday evening while she took aim at the three stacked bottles at the carnival booth in front of her.
Hurling the plastic ball, 5-year-old Jordyn knocked down the pyramid and ran to her mom for a celebratory high five.
“She’s having a great time,” Jordyn’s mother, Latisha Jones, said. “This is a great event. It keeps the kids busy because there’s so much to do here, but it’s all safe.”
Jordyn was one of hundreds of children who turned out for a night of fun and safe trick-or-treating this Halloween at the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office’s Fourth annual Trick-or-Treating with Deputies at the BREC Elvin Street park.
The park’s gymnasium was filled with a foggy haze and music while Sheriff’s Office deputies and costumed volunteers danced and played games with the children.
Outside, hundreds of kids played in the neighborhood and jumped in inflatable toys while waiting for the trick-or-treating to begin.
One of the main goals of the event, which is held in the high-crime Gardere Lane community, is to “bring the community back together,” said Capt. Tonola Blakes, commander of the Burbank Substation, which organizes the annual event.
“Where there’s crime, shootings, neighborhoods can become torn apart,” Blakes said. “The children can’t come out and play. But Halloween is supposed to be about having fun in the neighborhood.”
Sean Johnson posed for a picture in front of a Halloween-themed backdrop with his 3-year-old daughter Shia and 7-month-old son Shane seated on his lap.
Johnson said he took off work early just to bring his children to the event, which he’s attended the past three years.
“I love it. It shows people that law enforcement is here not just to protect, but also to serve,” Johnson said. “And it’s a great opportunity for kids to trick or treat in an environment that’s safe.”
Safe was the overarching theme of the night, with the strong deputy presence ensuring the multitude of children running through the Gardere neighborhood went home unharmed.
The large group of goblins, superheroes, fairies and Disney characters got a safety briefing from Sheriff’s Office deputies before being turned loose on the neighborhood.
Dozens of deputies and volunteers from LSU and local high schools walked with the groups of children to each house where costumed, smiling residents handed out treats.
“We’ve broadened our horizons and spread it out to other streets,” Blakes said of the area for trick-or-treating. “The neighbors seem so happy.”
It was the fourth year the Sheriff’s Office held the event, which also seeks to improve the relationship between residents and the deputies, Blakes said.
Deputies in full uniform mingled with attendees, joking with parents, high fiving and dancing with the kids and handing out candy.
Kids even got to try their hand at sinking a Sheriff’s Office employee who bravely volunteered for the dunk tank.
“I know the kids look forward to this event, and they look forward to hanging out with the deputies,” Blakes said. “They think we’re actually cool.”