Halloween will be observed in Bladen County and area towns Saturday night. Trick or treating resolutions have been passed by most area towns outlining age limits, ending times and curfews.
The county will not have a curfew, Bladen County Sheriff Steve Bunn said, but extra deputies will be on patrol to ensure "everyone has a safe and fun time."
"Parents should make sure their children are accompanied by a responsible adult," Bunn said. Children nine and under should also be accompanied by an adult to the door, Bunn said.
"We want everyone to have a good time," he said, "but we want parents to keep safety in mind as well."
Vandalism and pranks will not be tolerated, Bunn said.
"There's no fun in destroying someone else's property," he said. "Property damage is a crime, and it will be dealt with harshly."
Children should not go to places that don't have a light on outside, Bunn said, and should never go to homes where they do not know the residents. Organized events are also a good alternative, Bunn said.
"Quite a few area churches and other groups are sponsoring safe, structured activities," Bunn said. "These events can be just as much fun as going door to door, and much safer."
White Lake Police Chief Bruce Smith said drivers should be on the lookout for children who may dart between parked cars without looking.
"If you're in an area where there are a lot of children trick or treating," Smith said, "please keep your eyes open."
White Lake and Bladenboro are two of the county's busiest places on Halloween. Camp Clearwater, Turtle Cove and other lake neighborhoods teem with trick-or-treaters, as does Bladenboro's Main Street area.
Bladenboro Police Chief Ronnie Rising said parents should be sure kids follow traffic rules, and ensure costumes don't block a child's vision.
"Make sure your child has a flashlight, and can see outside of her mask," Rising said. "It's easy to get excited about Halloween, and forget some of the basic safety rules. Parents should take this time to remind children to look both ways before crossing a street, and only cross at corners."
"Make trick or treating a family activity," Rising said. "There's safety in numbers, and if Mom or Dad is along to keep an eye out, everyone can have a good, safe time."
Elizabethtown Police Chief Bobby Kinlaw encouraged parents to explore alternative activities.
"Older kids need to find something else to do, other than asking for candy," Kinlaw said. "Some people have stopped handing out because of 15- or even 16-year-olds coming up to their doors. Only children 12 and under are allowed to trick or treat under the town's resolution."
Trick or treating times around the county vary from town to town, based on local activities.
Halloween will be observed across the county Saturday night, Oct. 30, instead on Halloween, Oct. 31. Generally trick or treating is limited to children 12 and under, and children nine and under must be accompanied to the door by an adult or parent.
Trick or treating ends in the county, Elizabethtown, White Lake, Tar Heel and East Arcadia at 9:30 p.m.
In Dublin, trick or treating begins at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m.
In Clarkton and Bladenboro, trick or treaters may go door to door from 6-8:30 p.m.
In Elizabethtown and White Lake, a curfew extends from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. for all youth unless accompanied by an adult in both towns.
A curfew will also be in effect in Bladenboro from 9:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. for all youth 13 to adult, unless accompanied by a parent.
Church groups and UNICEF collectors will be exempted from the rules in all areas, officials said, but these groups must be supervised by an adult.