The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office was transformed into a spooky ghost house as hundreds of young trick-or-treaters disguised as policemen and women, princesses, ninjas, and super heroes ventured through the building Tuesday.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree has made the event an annual one since he took office in 2013.
As the first 10 trick-or-treaters of the day made their way through an office adorned with cauldrons, skeletons and other decorations, they were met by Roundtree. He was dressed as Capt. Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean.
The group of 3- to 8-year-olds smiled and gazed as the sheriff placed large candy bars into their bags.
Dana Reese, 30, of Lincolnton, who guided the home-school children through the office, said the event was a safe and great way for the children to connect with officers, and participate in Halloween festivities.
“I think it is a great way to bring the community in,” she said. “It’s also a safe place for children to trick-or-treat and nobody has to worry about if their candy is coming from a good place, or anything like that.”
Soon after the first hour of Tuesday’s event, more than 60 students from Richmond County Schools arrived. Among them was Lauren Hatcher, a kindergarten teacher at Craig-Houghton Elementary, and 12 of her pupils.
The children often came to abrupt stops and some backed away as they took a closer look at the decorations. Once the jumpy bunch made their way through some dark and eerie offices, they were guided up a stairwell where they came face-to-face with the sheriff.
Taelynn Sumpter, a student from Craig-Houghton , laughed as she made out the sheriff underneath the row of flintlock pistols that were strapped to his chest and his pirate apparel.
“He looks really funny,” she said following the haunted tour as she discussed with her classmates about things seen and candies collected during the event.
The 5-year-old kindergarten pupil said she had been looking forward to the October field trip, and the close authenticity of the spiders and skeletons that hung from the ceilings and plastered onto walls did not upset her.
“I liked them,” Sumpter said. “They looked like they were actually real. It made me feel happy.”
But for her classmate Tussaint Farrow, 6, the decor seemed uncanny. He said he enjoyed interacting with the officers as they placed goodies in their bags, but not the “skeleton room” where “jigsaw met them.”
“It’s good because I like the candy, but that was really scary,” he said.
Roundtree said the event continues the office’s mission to partner with the community and to provide a safe space for children to enjoy the holiday.
“The employees here go in their own pockets to buy candy for the kids of the community and we even have kids coming as far as Lincoln County to take part in this safe environment,” he said. “I think when it comes to elements of the safest place to trick-or-treat, it doesn’t get any better than the sheriff’s office and the sheriff being (present) himself.”