In addition to Miami's annual “Boo Ha Ha”, which begins at 3 p.m. on Main Street, communities and churches throughout Ottawa County will be sponsoring alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating.

Elk's Lodge No. 1320 - The lodge will have their 4th annual Children's Halloween Party today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 401 S. Main in Miami. There will be hot dogs, candy, games and prizes.

Commerce businesses will gather in the parking lot south of the police department to pass out treats beginning at 4 p.m. The police department is sponsoring a costume contest.

Also in Commerce, the “Sweat Shop”, Ottawa County's only spook house, will be open from dark until the last customer goes through on Halloween night.

The First Assembly of God Church located at 1815 E. Steve Owens Blvd. in Miami will hold a trunk-n-treat from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the church parking lot. Refreshments, candy and inflatable toys will be given to all the children.

Welch Christian Church, located at 3rd and Queen streets in Welch, will hold a Hallelujah Festival from 5 to 8 p.m.

The First Assembly of God Church in Fairland will sponsor a fall festival from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Activities include food, games and a hay ride.

Halloween may be at the top of a child's list of favorite holiday's, but for parents of small children it is often met with apprehension.

For parents who choose the traditional route, there are precautions that health and safety officials say should be taken to ensure that children have a safe, enjoyable evening. Suggestions include:

€ Parents should make sure children wear well-fitted clothing and wear shoes that make it easy to move around without stumbling.

€ Young children should be encouraged to use makeup rather than masks because masks can obstruct vision, especially in the dark.

Children should also carry flashlights, and wear light-colored costumes that can easily been seen by drivers.

It's best to have at least one adult accompany each group of children. If children are old enough to be out on their own, parents should know the approximate “path” they plan to take, and all children should have a specific time limit for when they are to return home. Instruct children to be selective regarding the homes they visit - only those with lights on, preferably in neighborhoods they know.

There are also several “don'ts” to reinforce:

Children should never “trick or treat” alone and should not enter any home, unless it is the home of a friend. They should stay in familiar neighborhoods and knock only at houses with lights on.

Children should be especially wary of cars, remembering to avoid running across streets and checking driveways for cars backing out. They should be instructed to cross only at corners and never between parked cars or mid-block.

They should not eat any candy before they get home and have it inspected by an adult. Any items that are not wrapped should be thrown away. Also, children shouldn't carry sharp or pointed props and they should never carry candles as a source of light.

Finally, all adults should remember to take extra precautions when driving on Halloween night because children will be everywhere.

Many children get very excited in anticipation of Halloween. These simple precautions can keep the day safe and fun for all.