What started out in 2005 as a fun Halloween-themed tennis party for a dozen young players has turned into an extravaganza of spooks, costumes, games and candy that draws hundreds -- the Pleasanton Halloween Fun Night.
"It's been a large event for six or seven years -- it just grew and grew," said John Vest, chief operating officer for Lifetime Activities, which contracts with the city to run the program at Pleasanton Tennis and Community Park. "Everyone is invited."
Vest was tennis director at the Pleasanton site in 2005 and thought it would be fun for the kids participating in tennis programs to celebrate the holiday.
"We had fun Halloween-themed tennis games, some decorations, some big pumpkin blowups. One of the games was to hit the blowups," Vest recalled. "From there we started adding things, and it took off rather quickly."
They created a "haunted hallway" that over the years ended up snaking through the facility's common area as a haunted house.
"Last year we had about 80 volunteers from the local high school and organizations that played actors in the haunted house," Vest said.
He estimated that anywhere from 900 to 1,000 people came to enjoy the Fun Night last Halloween, with the children in costumes.
"It's pretty neat how the community has embraced it," Vest said. "One couple comes out every year in costumes that can only be described as 'professional.' One year they were Frankenstein -- he was on stilts to make him 7 feet tall -- and Bride of Frankenstein."
For this year's event, the haunted house has been scaled back to a haunted entrance once again.
"We decided to focus on adding games and activities that the community can play at the Tennis Park," Vest said. "We have a lot of fun activities planned."
For one game, badminton birdies will be transformed into fireflies using blinking LED lights. The rackets will have strings replaced with nets, and the kids can use them to catch the fireflies.
"We have added so many games, and we are excited to let people try new things," Vest said. "Everything takes on a Halloween theme that night. There will be plenty they can do -- and shopping carts full of candy."
The tennis facility has a staff of about 30 full- and part-time members, with more in the summer, and that evening they will be joined by leadership teams from the other sites. Lifetime Activities also runs the city programs in Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Clara and Walnut Creek.
"We couldn't do it without the volunteers from the community," Vest said. "The Halloween Fun Night is our chance to give back to the community. At the Fun Night, kids of all ages get to dress up and trick-or-treat with us while trying sports and activities they can enjoy for a lifetime."
The free event is a good time to check out the 12-court Pleasanton Tennis Park facility, which includes a clubhouse and a pro shop. That evening, it will offer specials on the programs, which include tennis, chess, badminton and pickle ball, a game played on a smaller court with a paddle and whiffle ball.
The 13th annual Halloween Fun Night will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26. For more information, go to www.lifetimeactivities.com, visit the Tennis Park at 5801 Valley Ave. near Hopyard Road, or call 931-3449.