Kids, costumes, candy and plenty of activities made for an exciting afternoon yesterday at one of the biggest Halloween events Japantown has ever seen.
The Japan Center Malls hosted the Spooktacular Halloween Party and Trick-or-Treat, an annual event meant to provide kids and their families with a safe, free and fun place to celebrate the holiday and to come together as a community.
The event featured a plethora of activities including face painting, pumpkin decorating, various games, trick-or-treating inside the East and West Malls, and even a bouncy house shaped like an enormous green dinosaur.
“We’ve been coming to this event every year since our kids were old enough,” said Darlene Ruiz, who was spending the afternoon at the event with her two children. “This year it seems like there are a lot more people, more booths, and candy.”
In fact, the consensus among returning attendees, volunteers and organizers alike was that this year’s event was the biggest one yet.
“I work for a community based organization and we help out at a lot of the events in Japantown,” said 43-year-old Erika Tamura. “It’s definitely a bigger crowd this year.”
Adam Straus, the organizer of the event, was more than satisfied with the turnout and was happy with how the community was reacting to the party.
“I think it has exceeded expectations,” he noted. “I expected about 1,000 people to attend, but I think it will be well over that.”
Straus’ goal with this event is to develop a carefree environment where people can enjoy themselves with as little worry as possible.
“This event is designed for kids and families to trick-or-treat and to create a safe place for them to go,” said Straus.
One of the biggest draws for this event however is the fact that it is free.
Thanks to the sponsors of the event and careful planning, the Spooktacular Halloween party was able to increase the number of activities while still remaining free of charge to the community.
Yet this is not the case for many other Halloween themed community gatherings in San Francisco, which makes the Japantown event all the more enticing for anyone looking for family oriented fun where they don’t have to shell out hard-earned cash.
“Compared to the Stern Grove Halloween event, which is $8 a person, this is nice because it’s free,” said Ruiz. “It’s a kid friendly event and free. Free is good.”
This year, the party was even able host a live music performance from the Alphabet Rockers, a kid-friendly group whose goal is to make learning fun for children through music.
“This year we were able to have a live band,” said Straus. “It really added a new energy to the event.”
Even people who just happened to come across the event by accident were impressed with the function.
“I was just after the sushi in Japantown and stumbled on the event,” said 30-year-old Ky Faubion. “The music is bumping, it’s got a good rhythm.”
“It has a good vibe,” said Kyle Loving, another passerby who stayed to enjoy the festivities. “A lot of people are embracing the Halloween spirit.”
In the end, the Spooktacular Halloween Party is about the kids, and their laughter and joy could be heard buzzing in the air for the entirety of the event.
“Just watching the kids have fun is what I like most about the event,” said Straus. “I just love creating a place for the community to come together and have fun.”