On Halloween in Fort Smith, kids go trick-or-treating and then head to the correctional complex.
This year, inmates and staff prepared almost 300 hot dogs, two bins filled with candy, and many, many cups of hot chocolate for the children – who started dropping by around 6pm.
The annual tradition is believed to be in its 14th year.
Janelle Minute, acting warden, and Toko MacDonald, corrections supervisor, both work at the Fort Smith Correctional Complex.
“Last year, we didn’t have enough people to run [the event],” said Minute. “This year, the female unit has decided to help out, start it up, and put it on for the community once again.
“We had a crew getting the decorations up and local businesses have donated very graciously.
“The inmates at the women’s facility donated a portion of money for candy to be bought for the community as well. It’s a great way to give back and keep involved in the community,”
Minute and MacDonald explained that many inmates have their own families and look forward to the event because they get be a part of the community and see the children all dressed up.
MacDonald has been with the project since its start, more than a decade ago.
“When we started it, we didn’t realize it would be such a welcomed thing to go to in Fort Smith,” he said.
“Every year, we added a little more and a little more until it got to where it is now.
“All of a sudden, we’re getting 300 people. The most we ever got was 415 children and parents coming by.”
In the past, MacDonald said, RCMP and bylaw officers had to step in as trick-or-treaters created so much traffic on the town’s main street while trying to get to the haunted castle.