Costumed kids and their families gathered at the Midway Mall Wednesday night to celebrate Halloween with the Sherman Police Department’s 2018 Fright Fest.

Sgt. Brett Mullen said this year’s free trick-or-treating event featured 44 different businesses and organizations, all of which handed out candy, snacks and prizes to young participants. Amid evening rain showers, organizers were forced moved the festival from its usual site on the Sherman Municipal Grounds to the Midway Mall food court, but Mullen said the back-up venue may have boosted overall attendance.

“This thing usually draws between 1,500 and 3,000 people,“ Mullen said. “Being that it’s raining, and we’re some of the only indoor trick-or-treating today, we’re expecting a high turnout.”

Mullen said the first Fright Fest was created in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001 and was meant to give families a safe place to take their children for a night of trick-or-treating organized by trusted faces.

“I think, when it initially started, we were just handing out candy in front of the police department,” Mullen said. “But then, other businesses and organizations started wanting to join, so we moved it over to the Municipal Grounds which is now, traditionally, where it’s held and we’ve been growing over since.”

Stacey Ramay attended the festival with her husband and their three children. Ramay said she was surprised to see so many people in attendance, but like many other families, she said her famaily was just looking to celebrate the holiday without getting wet in the dreary weather outside.

“Well, we were planning to go trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, but the rain drove us indoors,” Ramay said. “We knew we’d stay dry here.”

With her three children dressed up as a hot dog, a toilet and “Super Bunny” — a homemade super hero — Ramay said her favorite part of Halloween was seeing what costume ideas her kids come up with each year. But when asked whether she was ready for the impending sugar rush about to surge forth from her children, Ramay didn’t hesitate to answer.

“Not at all,” Ramay said, laughing.

Mullen said the department was glad to host the Fright Fest again this year and that he hoped the trick-or-treaters and their families enjoyed the event.

“It’s exciting to see everyone come out and we always just hope that they have fun,” Mullen said. “That’s the goal — to bring the community together and have a good time.”