Of all the places in Hannibal that might boast a ghost or two, the place to go for the best chance to view a spook or two on Halloween night is the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center. It is estimated that up to 1,000 little ghosts and goblins will fill the building during the 29th annual Children’s Halloween Party.


Of all the places in Hannibal that might boast a ghost or two, the place to go for the best chance to view a spook or two on Halloween night is the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center. It is estimated that up to 1,000 little ghosts and goblins will fill the building during the 29th annual Children’s Halloween Party.
“This year being on a Saturday I’ve geared everything up for 1,000 kids. We may get it or may not, it just depends on the weather,” said Cpl. Brian Allen, who has coordinated the annual Halloween party for the Hannibal Police Department the past four years.
While Allen knows that there are a number of Halloween-related events that will be occurring throughout the community Saturday, he expects many people will bring their children by the party, which is open at no charge to youngsters from 0 to 12 years old.
“This is a tradition for a lot of people and I’m sure we’re getting pretty close, if we haven’t already, to having second generation people coming in,” he said.
Allen, who reports last year’s party attracted 740 participants, is not surprised that the annual party remains a hit with youngsters and parents alike.
“It gives kids a safe place to come down. Parents don’t have to worry about them running around on the street. They don’t have to worry about deviates and different things like that,” he said. “Kids are safe down here. Parents know they can bring them down here and don’t have to be watching them full-time, they can just let them walk around. The candy is safe. The toys are safe. It’s a good place for them. They’re out of the weather.”
Allen and Sgt. Jennifer Grote were busy putting some final touches on the decorations Friday morning. Allen credits a number of diehard volunteers, including other members of the HPD, with helping transform the gymnasium into spook central in a matter of days.
Despite the tough economy, Allen says the community has again stepped up to support the event.
“This year it seems like everything is short here and there, but the donations went up $2,000 this year,” he said. “People are really coming forward and helping out. Anytime you do something in the community with kids people will donate pretty good to that.”
The HPD’s track record of staging the event gives people confidence when asked to donate, according to Allen.
“It’s our 29th annual so it isn’t like this is a fly-by-night operation. It’s done by the police department’s DARE program, which has been around since ‘91. It’s been a good program. I don’t think people have a problem giving to it,” he said.
Allen admitted he’s looking forward to the party himself.
“Who else gets paid to do something they love to do?” he asked. “It’s a blast for me. I enjoy doing it. It’s a lot of fun.”
The party will run from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The party offers games and treats for the children including soda and hot dogs. The party will also feature a haunted tent as well as costume contests for four separate categories/age groups with prizes for the winners. 
Registration for the costume contest begins at 4 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m.