Hundreds of people got the chance to see one of their community parks in a whole new light, or – more accurately – less light.
The Kern County Library partnered with the Kern County Administrative Office and the county Parks and Recreation Department for the first-ever Hart Park After Dark event on Saturday. The festivities included stargazing, live music, arts and crafts, Halloween-related activities and more. The goal of the event was to highlight local parks and what they can offer to the community.
Several county departments participated in the event, including the Kern County Astronomical Society, county Veterans Services and the Department of Human Services.
"It seemed like an educational, outdoorsy event that would be good for kids," said Len Mills, who brought her two grandchildren to the event. "This is a great idea. We need more safe activities like this."
Besides more stationary activities such as arts and crafts, story time and stargazing, there were also a few options for the more active-minded. There was a bike ride from the event site to the California Living Museum — better known as the CALM zoo — as well as a night hike featuring information about the park’s history.
For those already excited for Halloween, there was a costume contest for people of all ages, with winning categories ranging from spookiest costume to best couple costume.
Many parents and their children came to the event after attending CALM's Boo at the Zoo earlier in the day. At least half of the people who attended the event were in some kind of costume.
Bakersfield couple Terry and Tammy Nelson both dressed up as Mario and Luigi, video game characters. They also brought with them their two children.
"We were at the zoo and we thought it would be another fun event to bring the kids to," Tammy Nelson said.
The Nelsons just moved to Bakersfield a few months ago, and Saturday marked their first time at Hart Park, they said.
"It's a huge park. I didn't even know it was over here," Tammy said. "It's a great way to get to know the park."
Nelson said she hopes the park has similar events in the future. She said she thinks bounce houses and more games for the kids would be good additions at future events.
Marlene Garcia brought her four kids to Hart Park After Dark. They had also come after attending the Boo at the Zoo event.
"We're having a really fun time. The kids are really enjoying it, and the parents are too," she said. "[Hart Park After Dark] gives the kids in the community something to do."
While Garcia said she brings her children occasionally to the park, it's usually for the zoo. She said this was the first time she got a really good look at the rest of the park.
"We get to enjoy the scenery," she said. "It makes you want to come back out here."
Garcia said she would bring her children to the park more if there were more events like this one.
"It would be great because we wouldn't have to go out of town," she said.