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Ghost Train a monster success as fundraiser
Of all the Halloween festivities last weekend, none drew a larger crowd than the annual Ghost Train event put on by Kitsap Live Steamers as a benefit for the Kitsap Foster Parents Association.
Parked cars lined both sides of Jackson Avenue as hundreds of people came to South Kitsap Regional Park for games, trick-or-treating and rides on the scale-model trains past ghoulish scenes in the woods.
The event raised more than $6,000, according to Kitsap Foster Parents Association president Phyllis Bishop.
“We’ve worked on this a long time; that’s the best we’ve ever done,” she said.
The train club volunteers have run the Ghost Train for a number of years as benefit for charitable groups, and this was the fourth year the foster parent group was the beneficiary.
Many foster parents and the youths they care for were among the volunteers helping out at the food booth and creating spooky scenes in the woods along the train tracks.
Bishop said the huge turnout this year was a pleasant surprise. Last year’s Halloween event dampened by rain.
“We didn’t really have an idea how many would be there or how big it would be,” she said.
She credits mild weather, publicizing the event through South Kitsap schools, and the efforts of Barbara Holbrook, who took over as event coordinator this year.
“She went out and got lots of community partners to have a booth and a vignette,” Bishop said.
Numerous businesses had booths with games and candy to share, and one of the most popular features other than the train was the California Kid monster truck parked in the meadow for kids to climb on. The driver, Ed Miller, is a foster parent.
Bishop said her association got connected with Kitsap Live Steamers through Marie Woods-Weaver, a state social worker in foster care who’s a board member of the train club.
The Ghost Train is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Kitsap Foster Care Association, and the money raised helps pay for providing socks, underwear and pajamas for youths when they’re placed in foster care; a Christmas party for foster children and caregivers; monthly dinner meetings with training for foster parents and others involved in the Kinship Care program; and an annual outing to a Seattle Mariners game.
Fundraising events like the Ghost Train also offer an opportunity to raise awareness of the need for foster parents, Bishop said. There was a recruitment booth at Saturday’s event providing information on the process of becoming a foster parent.
“Kitsap County has a very high need for foster homes,” she said, explaining that many children from the area are placed in foster homes in other counties.
“It takes a community to support foster families,” Bishop said. “We can’t do it on our own.”