Bexley's Recreation and Parks Department staff understands why children, and even some adults, don't look forward to the Halloween season.

Bexley's Recreation and Parks Department staff understands why children, and even some adults, don't look forward to the Halloween season.

While some people get a kick out of being scared by chainsaw wielding madmen, monsters and ghosts at haunted houses, that scene isn't for everyone.

The annual Bexley Harvest Festival was created as an alternative to the blood and gore that are all too frequently associated with Halloween.

From 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 15 in the meadow behind the Jeffrey Mansion in Bexley, families, especially those with small children, can enjoy seasonal activities including face-painting, a bonfire and hay rides minus the terror.

"It's a great family event," recreation supervisor Barb Greiner said. "It's very well attended. It's one of the most popular things we do."

A bonfire and an enchanted walk are among the event highlights.

"The enchanted walk, we've been working on for 10 to 15 years and we add characters to every year," she said. "This year we're going to feature the characters from Toy Story."

Greiner said the idea was to feature Buzz Lightyear and Woody instead of Freddie Kreuger and Jason.

"The whole event started out as trying to offer parents an alternative to the threatening, scary things that a lot of kids have to put up with during Halloween season," Greiner said. "We wanted to be a warm, fuzzy spot where you knew your child could walk through and know that they wouldn't be threatened or scared by any of the characters,"

Greiner said attendees will encounter characters from Sesame Street and Disney during their visit to the mansion grounds.

"The pre-school age children really love it but over the years we've also seen the older elementary kids loving it too," she said. "We also have a bonfire back in the meadow and a corn maize and usually the older kids really like to do that."

Greiner said the event, which is co-sponsored by Bexley Celebrations and the Recreation and Parks Department, is free and will take place rain or shine. In the event of rain, the event will be moved inside the mansion.

"We had two goals," she said. "Not only offering a non-threatening environment for children, but our second goal was to try to offer something to parents where they can take their family and not have to spend half of their paycheck. All of the activities are free. The only thing that would cost anything would be if they chose to have pizza or desserts."

Bexley Celebrations will be selling pizza and soft drinks at the event and local girl scouts will be selling finger desserts.

A juggler will entertain and give out balloon animals to children and Bexley resident John Millard will sing children's songs around the bonfire.

Local boy scouts and girl scouts are among the volunteers helping make the event possible, Greiner said.

For more information, call 559-4300.