Spring Valley area youth will have several options for a safe, fun evening on Halloween.

The "Pumpkinpalooza" Halloween celebration will be held Thursday, Oct. 31, at Valley Christian Center while the annual Halloween open house is set for the same night at the Spring Valley Community Center.

"We want to create a safe and fun environment that encourages children to play. We hope the classic games, yummy treats and photos create lasting memories for the children and their parents. We also hope to simply bless the community," said Valley Christian Center (VCC) worship director Maria Kujawa Klingsheim, anticipating the third annual "Pumpkinpalooza," which promises children "games, candy, prizes and fun."

The free event is fun for everyone in the family, and costumes are encouraged but not required. "There's apple bobbing, a 'pumpkin pond,' a cupcake walk, ring toss and more," said Klingsheim. "There is even a game set aside for kids that are 3 and under, and we'll have popcorn, cookies and 'pumpkin juice' - orange Kool-Aid."

Upon arrival, children will get a card with four check boxes. Once they do four activities, they exchange it for a treat bag. They can, of course, do more than four activities, and each child will get a filled candy bag once they turn in their stay-and-play card. The theme of the treat bags is "Who? Who? Who loves you? Jesus does!" featuring a cute owl. It will include candy, a plastic tumbler cup and an owl craft to do at home.

Participants may choose whether or not they'd like to spend the entire evening at the Pumpkinpalooza. "This is a 'come-and-go-as-you-please' event - stay a little or a lot. This flexibility will allow kids and families to make it to other events if need be, or people are welcome to stay the entire time with us," said Klingsheim. "Parents will like that there is a lot for kids to do in one stop. There will be a decorated area that makes a great backdrop for taking kids' pictures. It's a safe, contained place for kids to roam and play."

Pumpkinpalooza is slated for Thursday, Oct. 31, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Valley Christian Center on Territorial Road in Spring Valley.

Downtown, the Spring Valley Kiwanis Club, along with its student Key Club and Builders Club and support from the Spring Valley Chamber of Commerce, is hosting its annual Halloween party for children in preschool through sixth grade at the Spring Valley Community Center. This longtime tradition is reliably a good time featuring games, the Kingsland Key Club's haunted house, prizes and a candy bag for each child, as well as the Spring Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) sticking reflective stickers on trick-or-treaters as part of the "Lite-A-Tyke" program meant to keep children safe on the streets.

Preparations for the party begin in September so that by Halloween night, the games and prizes are ready to go. According to several members, the Kiwanians enjoy holding the party because they can offer children a safe place to have fun and enjoy Halloween night entertainment, and the party fulfills the club's organization-wide mission of "Serving the Children of the World" on a local level.

The party starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m., allowing just enough time for goblins, princesses, pirates and Kiwanian and candy bag ticket guardian "Popcorn Bill" Johnson to have a nice Halloween night out.