Three years ago, the Ocean View Police Department took a seed of an idea and created the community-oriented Halloween event known as Cops & Goblins.
“Chief came to me one day a few years ago and said, ‘Rhys, I have an idea,’” recalled Sgt. Rhys Bradshaw. “‘I’ve been thinking about creating a Halloween event — something free for the kids in the community.’
“Where I grew up in New Jersey, Halloween was an event. We went out and trick-or-treated all through the neighborhoods. You don’t see that much around here,” Bradshaw said.
The free event hosts families in Ocean View’s John West Park for a few hours, offering families a safe environment for trick-or-treating while having positive interactions with local law-enforcement officers.
Cops & Goblins will be held, rain or shine, on Sunday, Oct. 29, from 1 to 4 p.m. this year.
It will feature free food from Papa John’s, Hocker’s, Taco Taco and Rita’s water ice. Parsons Farms will return this year with their petting zoo, and Barn Hill Preserve will be on hand for kids to get an up-close look at some unusual critters.
The Delaware State Police Mounted Unit will be in attendance, and the OVPD’s own K-9 officer Hardy will give a demonstration that afternoon.
Kids can enjoy blow-up rides and mechanical games — all totally free of charge. A D.J. will help add ambiance, and a costume contest for Best Cop, Best Goblin and Best Overall Costume will be conducted.
There will also be a backdrop of the Cops & Goblins poster — featuring the moon, a trick-or-treater and a police officer — set up with a cutout police car with which families may take photos.
Area businesses are also being invited to set up a table at the event and hand out candy to kids in attendance. Businesses that wish to participate are being encouraged to contact Bradshaw at the police department for more details. He added that they’re always looking for people to volunteer their time to help with set up and breakdown, and throughout the event.
Donations of non-soda beverages are also welcome, so that families can enjoy water or juice with their free meal, provided free of charge by area restaurateurs.
“We just want to put on a nice little community event that’s safe for the kids.”
New this year, a group called Legion will attend, dressing up as familiar Star Wars characters.
“I specifically requested Chewbacca, so we’ll see if he shows up,” Bradshaw noted with a laugh.
Local law-enforcement agencies from Bethany Beach, South Bethany, Fenwick, Selbyville and Dagsboro have also been invited to attend the event and interact with those in attendance.
“We invite all departments in the area,” said Bradshaw. “We just say, ‘Come, bring a car and mingle with the kids.’
“It’s amazing just being with the kids, talking to them for a couple minutes and seeing how happy they are. You let them sit in your car and play with the lights a little bit… It just makes their day.”
Throughout the school year, OVPD officers go to Lord Baltimore Elementary School daily to visit students.
“We like to go to LB and see the kids. We stop in classrooms and talk to the kids. Young kids, we’ll read them a story — just anything we can do to get out in the community and be a part of it so they can see us in different roles other than sitting out there running radar. We like to be involved in community events as much as possible,” he said, adding that officers within the department also serve as mentors to some of the school’s students.
Community policing is a big focus for the department, said Bradshaw. The local officers want to have a positive relationship with all residents, from children to seniors.
“I think it’s important for the kids to get out there, see and meet the police officers in that environment, instead of just when they see us for bad reasons,” he said. “We want people to know us. I want to be able to walk into a store and have the owner say, ‘Hey, Rhys — how are you doing?’ We want to be a part of this community, and I think it’s important for people to see us as part of this community… We’re here to help you. We’re not just here to arrest you or write you a ticket. We’re here to help you.”
Bradshaw said last year’s event was wildly successful, and he hopes this year will be just as well-received.
“I think it’s turned out great the past two years and am excited to see how it turns out this year. Last year, the response from the people has been overwhelming,” he said. “Everyone really enjoyed themselves. It’s only been two years and already it’s been so great, such a great community program that I hope it continues to get better year after year.”
For more information regarding the event, visit https:www.facebook.com/OVPD936 or http://www.oceanviewde.com. Businesses that wish to participate as a business vendor or make a donation may contact Bradshaw at the police department by calling (302) 539-1111.