Athens Community Center will host its annual game night Thursday, where kids of all ages can dress up and enjoy fun activities. 

East State Street will be packed Thursday as costume-clad children march to the Athens Community Center for a night full of music, games and contests.

The event, hosted by the Athens Community Arts, Parks and Recreation Department, will begin at 6:45 p.m. with the parade and will run until 9 p.m.

“It’s a nice community event that gets people together and does something positive for kids,” Andrew Chicki, assistant director of the Athens Community Arts, Parks and Recreation Department, said.

In the past, Chicki said between 400 and 600 children attended the event.

The game night begins with the Athens High School band leading the children to the gym in the community center, where tables sponsored by various local merchants and companies have games set up. The tables include putt-putt golf, face painting and other carnival games.

Chicki also said the event provides children farther from the city with a place to come and trick-or-treat, which occurs on the same day from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“Not everyone can participate in trick-or-treating because their roads are not hospitable, so we have people from all over the county come and play games and dress up,” Chicki said.

Some students agree that the community center would be better for the children to trick-or-treat than some of the county roads.

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“It sounds like a safer environment for kids to celebrate Halloween,” Chelsea Smith, a senior studying nursing, said.

Prizes will be handed out for the dancing and costume contests, which will be categorized by age group.

Reggie “DJ Rockin Reggie” Robinson, who has supplied the music for the event for the last 15 years, said people of all ages have fun at the event.  

“We have kids that are one or two and kids in high school who just love it,” Robinson said. “The parents dress up (in costumes), too. They love bringing the kids out.”

Robinson said the event is a great chance for him to spread positive messages through his songs, which include anti-bullying and anti-drug lessons.

“It’s all about positive behavior and avoiding negative and hurtful behavior, like bullying and doing drugs,” Robinson said. “It's a reminder that you don't have to succumb to the pressure and can enjoy yourself without the use of drugs.”

Robinson, who also works as a substance abuse professional, speaks out against such behavior at schools in the area. Both city and county D.A.R.E. officers will also be in attendance to help with the kids.

Robinson spoke highly of both officers. He said Rick Crossen, the D.A.R.E. officer for Athens City Schools, is “the only policeman I’ve seen who will go out there and hula hoop with the kids.”