A pandemic and a new method of participation did not stop thousands of families from letting their kids have Halloween fun in Alton last week.
The city held its third annual National Night Out event last Friday, Oct. 30 as a drive-thru event where cars lined up starting at the Sylvia Vela Park parking lot that stretched to west of Conway Avenue and 5 Mile Line.
“With everything going on with the pandemic, it’s nice to come out here and get a little bit of normalcy even though we had to modify the way we’re doing things just to come out here and have that positive police interaction,” Alton police Chief Jonathon B. Flores said. “We’re pleased.”
The event usually draws thousands of people and dozens of vendors to celebrate the relationship between law enforcement agents and the community they serve. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations either cancelled or switched their National Night Out to a drive-thru setting where passing cars could pick up goodie bags for the family.
According to Flores, 2,500 cars participated in the drive-thru event with a total of 12,000 bags of school supplies and candy being distributed to kids in cars by the 26 vendors at the event.
“The vendors being here to support the community speaks volumes of their character,” Flores said. “Community service is the heart and soul of Alton and the department. When we say ‘community first’ we mean it.”
City Manager Jeff Underwood praised the city for its efficiency in the event. Over the last few months the city has hosted several other drive-thru events for the community such as a produce giveaway, COVID-19 testing and for the census.
“And I think we’ve gotten good at them,” Underwood said. “People are seeing that we’re very proactive and community oriented, that’s what we’re here for. People are realizing that and I hope they have a good time. We know trick or treating for the most part is cancelled throughout the Valley so we wanted the kids to have some outlet to still receive candy.”