Marco residents packed Mackle Park on Saturday to celebrate Halloween early.
The annual Halloween Spooktacular, which is organized by the city of Marco Island Parks and Recreation, attracted crowds of families and children. Many of them dressed in costume.
“This is always a big thing here,” said Bryan Milk, the director of parks and recreation in Marco, “Parents and kids come with their costumes and enjoy the festivities.”
Five-year-old Gabriel Rodriguez who was dressed as mermaid princess took advantage of the pony rides. She excitedly waved to her dad Derick as the pony circled around the park’s grassy field.
“This is the first time we’ve been here,” said Derick Rodriguez, a Marco resident, “but, so far it’s been a really great event for the kids, and it has a lot for them to do.”
Mindy Matusiak, the department supervisor and organizer of the event, added the pony rides this year. She said she has increased the number of activities to accommodate the larger attendance.
“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” said Matusiak dressed as a pirate, which was the costume theme for the parks and recreation employees. “We needed to have more things for people to do.”
The kids swarmed another newly added activity. The Critterman displayed a sizable collection of reptiles, including alligators and turtles.
“Grab it. Grab it,” said 6-year-old, Rosie Langer while attempting to hold a baby alligator. “Take it. I’m scared.”
The Spooktacular also offered a fortune teller, a pumpkin patch, a children’s area, arts and crafts and a costume contest. Hungry attendees could choose from hot dogs, popcorn, snow cones and various bake sales from local organizations.
“This is something everyone can look forward to right before season,” Matusiak said. “It’s a great way to get together and have fun.”