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Gainesville Fire Rescue reminds Halloween revelers to keep safety in mind

Clarence Williams and his son, Jamarious, stand in front of a Gaines Fire Rescue fire truck. Jamarious is dressed as Scooby Doo. (Mariana Larsen/WUFT News)
Clarence Williams and his son, Jamarious, stand in front of a Gaines Fire Rescue fire truck. Jamarious is dressed as Scooby Doo. (Mariana Larsen/WUFT News)

Monday was take your child to work day for a Gainesville father and son. The boy's uniform for the day was dog ears and a collar.

Jamarious Williams and his father Clarence Williams attended Screaming for Safety, a Halloween-themed event organized by Gainesville Fire Rescue. Williams, who is a GFR firefighter, said he decided to bring his son along for the day to help out.
Everyone was encouraged to wear a costume to the event, and staff and volunteers were no exception.

“So the costume thing was actually inspired by [the Community Resource Paramedicine team], which is the department of Gainesville Fire Rescue that actually put on this event,” Williams said. “So they went with the Scooby Do kinda like thing. So technically this was supposed to be my costume, but [Jamarious] technically stole it from me.”

“Yup,” said Jamarious, “‘cause I like Scooby Do.”

The event teaches children about fire prevention, traffic safety, and more through games and trick-or-treating. About 20 organizations came to the event to give children and families tips on how to be safe.

Jamarious was not only able to participate in the fun, but he was equally excited to be able to help his dad with the event.

“I’m giving out candy, and I got to make some of the decorations, like cobwebs, and I got to put up a few skeleton heads and some eyeballs,” Jamarious said.

Members of GFR were at the event to greet families and show them their fire truck and equipment. Kids were able to ask firefighters questions and take pictures in front of the truck.

Williams praised the event for giving GFR a chance to connect with the community, but his appreciation runs deeper than most:

“It’s also a good opportunity for me to be able to bring my son along, you know, and be able to bring him to work with me so he can actually seem to see some of the stuff that we do and still be able to bond at the same time.”

Screaming for Safety, which had been postponed due to weather, is centered around fire prevention week. Part of its mission is to teach families about fire safety and things they can keep in their house in case of a fire.

The theme of this year’s fire prevention week is cooking safety. GFR aims to promote safe cooking in homes, both at the event and beyond.

“The best thing we can do is educate to help prevent the upcoming fires,” Gainesville firefighter Rene Owens said.

One of the other organizations tabling at the event was the Gainesville Police Department. The department set up a game of Candyland: kids had to roll dice and move on the game squares until they reached the end of the game. Once they did, they got candy and a pamphlet on traffic safety.

Lt. Lisa Scott was one of the officers running the game at the event. She also touched on the importance of this event and how it brings the community closer.

“It gives us an opportunity as law enforcement to interact in a positive scenario with kids,” Lt. Scott said. “ I mean a lot of times we’re seeing adults and children on the worst day of their lives, so this is the fun part of our job.”

This was Lt. Scott's first year helping at Screaming for Safety. But there are a lot of returning volunteers as well. Krista Ott, GFR Community Resource Paramedicine Program Coordinator, helped organize Screaming for Safety. She said this is an event the community enjoys participating in.

“We have definitely seen some growth and some new groups that have added, but we’ve also had a lot of consistency,” she said. “So a lot of our community partners also look forward to this event every year. It gives them a great time to interact and connect with families within our community that they might not see on a normal basis.”

Along with fire prevention, another big topic of the event was keeping kids safe on Halloween night. It’s important to highlight ways kids can be safe on a night when risks run high, organizers said.

“Historically, October 31st has been the single deadliest day for pedestrian minors 14 and under,” Ott said.

While the event gave kids the opportunity to trick-or-treat in a safe environment, organizations also taught families how to stay safe when trick-or-treating in the dark.

Jordyn Zyngier is the pediatric trauma injury prevention and outreach coordinator for UF Health Shands. She hosted different traffic safety games for kids depending on their age to help them prepare for what to do on Halloween night.

“A big thing for us is getting kids to be more visible,” she said. “A lot of kids think the cool costumes are the dark costumes, so getting them to wear glow sticks, flashlights, reflective bands, something of the sort so that they’re more visible to our cars is super important.”

As for Jamarious and his dad Clarence, they spent the afternoon having father-son bonding time while giving back to the community. Jamarious was happy that he could be there with his dad.

“Yup, we have a long day Daddy,” he said in delight.

Mariana is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing