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Thousands attend Niabi's Halloween party

Thousands attend Niabi's Halloween party

BOO AT THE ZOO

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 They dressed in costumes, received tons of candy, rode a train, visited animals and played games.

An estimated 6,000 children and adults attended Saturday’s Boo at the Zoo Halloween party at Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley, Ill. A second day of the event will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.

Saturday was near-perfect with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures as many people showed before the 10 a.m. start time.

“We expect about 10,000 people for the full event (Saturday and Sunday),” said Amanda Reffett, the zoo’s office manager. “We will have about 6,000 today and probably 4,000 (Sunday).”

“There are 29 different organizers and vendors in the zoo. We have a lot of games with prizes and all handing out candy,” said Sharon Freedman, the zoo’s education director.

Mary Beth Saline of Rio, Ill., just stepped off the zoo’s train after getting a tour of the zoo with her niece and nephew, Savannah, 9, and Cameron, 4. “This is our first ride. They enjoyed it. They really love the train,” she said.

“I want to see some fish, and all the animals here,” Cameron said.

“I just like walking around, getting some candy and looking at the horses and animals,” Savannah said.

Vendors included booths from a pizza restaurant, dentist office, a bank and car dealership.

Olivia Pauley, 10, of Moline, was busy face-painting other children at a table sponsored by Sexton Ford in Moline. Her father, Rex Pauley, is the manager, she said.

“My friends and I have some artistic skills, and we thought it would be a great idea,” she said. “We have done 30-40 faces so far. We started a little before 10 a.m. We have all types of Halloween symbols we paint, plus peace signs, hearts, flowers and butterflies.”

Bobbi Rifley of Rock Island, was enjoying the day with her two sons, Colin, 5, and Logan, 8. That included standing in the long line to climb into the Coal Valley Fire Protection District fire engine on display.

“I think this is a great community event,” she said.

Dustin DeMuth of Park View, Iowa, was winding down his day with his wife, Katie, and their son, Caden, 4.

“We already have gone through it. All we are doing now is just standing in line for the train,” he said. “I like it. I think it is good for kids. It is a good, centralized area to trick or treat.”

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