Whitehall Fall Festival a howling success

 Messenger photos by Dianne Garrett

Whitehall City Councilwoman Leslie LaCorte took a moment from serving cotton candy to the fall festival attendees to have a little fun with three year old granddaughter, Abella Bishop, and sister Amy LaCorte.  Amy got into the spirit of Halloween, and ended up with a following of small children who adored the big dog. John LaCorte Amphitheater at Bishop Park is named in honor of the LaCorte sisters’ father, who was the first parks director in Whitehall.

John Crawford and sister, Tiffany, pause or a photo as they wait n a food line at the Whitehall Fall Festival on October 31 at John Bishop Park.  City of Refuge Baptist Church sponsored the event for families as an alternative to door-to-door begging.  About 30 area businesses, service organizations, seven churches and a host of volunteers participated.  John attends Etna Road Elementary and Tiffany is a student at Whitehall Yearling High School.

Little ghosts and goblins did not have to beg too hard in Whitehall for goodies or a good time on October 31.  Just before 6 p.m. children and parents began lining up at a registration table at John Bishop Park to attend Fall Festival.

The festival served as an alternative to door-to-door begging, providing a safe environment.  The event was sponsored by City of Refuge Baptist Church, along with seven area churches, 30 businesses and service organizations and volunteers.  Attendees received tickets for sandwiches, snacks, drinks and cotton candy.   There were also games and bouncies to keep them busy.  Older kids participated in a tag football game, with the winners receiving gift certificates from Target and medals.

Over the past few years, the festival was at Whitehall Baptist Church.  It has been such a success that it outgrew the church’s facilities.  City of Refuge is a new church in east Columbus, which held its first services November 3.  

Pastor Darryl Hammock, who was a youth pastor at Whitehall Baptist and organizer of the event, decided to partner with Whitehall Parks and Recreation for a new location.  

Parks Director Terry Gee said that he was very happy to provide the park, adding, "I actually had very little to do with this.  Pastor Hammock organized everything, including the partners and volunteers."

Hammock said last year’s attendance was about 1,000.  This year there were 1,100 registered,  with an additional 300 to 400 who just showed up.  

"I am very happy with the success of having the festival at Bishop Park," said Hammock.  "I hope it gets bigger each year, and we continue to add partners to offer a safe alternative to walking the streets begging."  

Anyone who would like to be a partner in next year’s event, can contact Hammock at 453-5556.

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