Kids, parents 'haunt' downtown St. Cloud
Families arrived in costume for the 12th annual event.
Costumes, trick-or-treating was just part of the fun at Kids and Parents Expo on Saturday
Pirates and princesses, snow queens and superheroes populated the Kids & Parents Expo on Saturday.
Some, of course, were scarier than others.
There was the usual kid fare: bouncy houses, laser tag, hot dogs and giant mascots on roller skates.
But there also was the practical. Many parents waited in line with their Ninja Turtles and witches to create or update a KidsID kit, which gathers lots of identifying details.
The kits help quell parents' own scariest possibility: a missing or abducted child.
There was a steady line of parents waiting for the kit, said organizer Justin Brown. The kits were provided for free by the Northstar Lodge 23 Freemasons. The group creates similar kits nationwide, working closely with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Volunteers typed up identifying characteristics, took a photo, uploaded fingerprints, recorded a child's voice and swabbed their DNA. In ideal cases, where a child fully cooperates, it takes only five minutes.
They'll do this hundreds of times. In past years, they've created kits for 250 to more than 350 kids, Brown said.
At the end of the line, a parent was handed a CD, printout and DNA swab, at the ready in case the worst thing happens, Brown said.
Of course, the Halloween costumes added an extra challenge for the people creating the kits.
If you end up using the kit, Brown said he told parents, be sure to tell them it was done at a Halloween event.
Those parents were lining up just a week after the 27th anniversary of the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling, and two months after his killer led authorities to the remains, which were finally returned to his family.
On Friday, a man was indicted in the kidnapping and killing of 5-year-old Alayna Ertl from Watkins in August.
Brown said they were seeing an uptick in KidsID activity because of those recent incidents.
A few parents have mentioned it," he said
Andrea Gilyard of Foley created kits for her kids, ages 1 and 2.
It was a pretty easy process," she said
She said she was motivated to get this done because of the Wetterling and Ertl cases.
Lots of kids have been taken and abducted," she said as she held one of her children tight
The festivities carried on, as kids danced "The Hokey Pokey" in a big group, a few yards from the ID station.
There, they were under the watchful eye of their parents and their smartphones.
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For more information
For more about the KidsID program, visit www.mn-masons.org/masonic-programs/kidsid.Read the full article here