Trick-or-treaters defied the cold Halloween night. Many of them came out to the annual Harvest Block Party for candy, games, and other treats.

This is the fifth year for the event.

The block party has help, these days, from multiple churches and area organizations, including the Geary County Sheriff Department. But the event was originally the brainchild of Flint Hills Church.

Children’s pastor Matt Wells was there when the idea originally formed.

“It’s a safe environment for families and that’s what our whole goal is,” Wells said.

He recalls when it still took place within the church building. Wells was happy to see how many children braved the chilly night to attend.

“Good turnout so far,” he said, early in the evening. “The weather’s holding out for us.”

There had been a fear of snow on the ground for Halloween and, while there was a bit of the white stuff remaining in the shadow of the church, for the most part the ice had cleared.

Wells said he expected between 1,200 and 1,500 people to show up.

Pastor B.J. Solander, another founder, said the event had grown to exceed everyone’s expectations, spreading off the church grounds and into Seventh Street.

“We just have a passion to give families a safe place to do Halloween,” he said. “And we want them to know that churches are friendly.”

Solander said churches have gained a reputation in recent years which he feels does not reflect what his church is about.

“I think sometimes people think churches are maybe about themselves or they’re about offerings and money and those kinds of things,” he said. “That couldn’t be further from what we want to be about. We want to be a church that the community needs and wants.”

He echoed what Wells said about offering families a safe place to celebrate on Halloween night.

“For me, it’s (about) putting smiles on kids’ faces and knowing that parents can feel comfortable about bringing their kids and not having to worry about the candy or who’s here,” Solander said.

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