Unfortunately for lots of children, the City of Forney’s annually sponsored Trail of Treats Halloween event was a colossal mess complete with a three hour line and no visible children’s games or activities.
Starting considerably earlier than in previous years, the event began at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and almost immediately an exceptionally long line formed to simply get to the starting point for Trick-or-Treating.
No bounce houses, no face painting and no games were available and the only food for sell was Firehouse BBQ and a small concession stand located in front of the Spellman Amphitheater which accepted cash only.
Totally changing the event layout, City of Forney Special Events Coordinator Alexa Beasley, decided to forego the use of the large soccer fields where the event is usually held and instead create a one-way line which forced the crowd to stand on the sidewalk adjacent to several unused football fields.
No longer could families picnic on the soccer field while children stood in line for candy. Due to the line being adjacent to the street the families were forced to stay in line together.
The line began near the tennis courts, snaked its way past the splash pad and then proceeded past all the unused football and soccer fields until it eventually reached the first of about twenty candy booths.
Dozens of families who have attended Trail of Treats in previous years were shocked and disappointed with the layout and with the lack of food vendors and activities for children. No children just running around playing; instead just one very long line to get candy.
This year, the City of Forney has sponsored both a 4th of July Celebration and its first ever BBQ Cook-off and both events had multitudes of activities available for children.
The 4th of July event had four inflatable slides, face painting and train rides therefore considering the activities which were provided at previous events area residents had every reason to expect quite a bit more than was delivered.
Speaking with several families, some of whom had traveled from Rowlett, Rockwall and Terrell, many adults were furious and several said the posters for the event had been misleading in regard to the activities that would be provided.
Preparing to leave the event, one mother who was accompanied by her three year old daughter stated, “I kept seeing the poster on Facebook and it said there would be activities for the kids. And all that’s here is a three hour line to get candy. I got a baby sitter for my younger child and drove over from Rowlett and now there is nothing for us to do but wait in line or wait for the movie to start.”
It was very apparent that the “long line layout” was designed to prevent children from cutting in-line as well as to make the crowd feed into the Spellman Amphitheater.
The movie “Hocus Pocus” was played at dark within the Amphitheater and apparently a costume contest was held within the Amphitheater as well. However, due to the poor layout many families simply left without trick-or-treating while others suffered through the line and then left immediately afterwards.
Special Events Coordinator Alexa Beasley has worked for the City of Forney since 2012. She was hired by former City Manager Brian Brooks specifically to coordinate the “Trail of Treats” and “Christmas on Main” events and her position was placed under the direct supervision of Parks and Recreation Director Richard Curry.
For some unknown managerial reason, city employee Alexa Beasley has been establishing different volunteer committees to assist her in the design and implementation of city events.
During the design and implementation of the city’s first ever BBQ Cook-off in June 2016, Beasley formed a committee which included local realtor Mathew Malone among others. And this time, she created a committee to assist her with the implementation of Trail of Treats and it included the expertise of American National Bank Forney branch, Vice-President Kelly Epton.
The Forney City Council annually spends $10,000 on the “Trail of Treats” event from its Special Events budget and according the 2016 Operating Budget, Special Events Coordinator Alexa Beasley will earn $65,969.00 in salary and benefits this year courtesy of the taxpayers of Forney.
Perhaps in the future, city events should be solely managed by the employees of the City of Forney. Volunteer committees work well under the supervision of non-profit organizations and church’s however the taxpayers of Forney have the right to get their monies worth, in every way.
Written by: Denise Bell