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Posted November 1, 2013
Patients and Staff Celebrate Halloween at All Children's Hospital

Halloween at All Children's
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When it comes to trick or treating at All Children's Hospital, it's hard to tell who enjoys the tradition more: the youngsters or the grown-ups.

Once again, the scene inside the lobby Thursday afternoon featured a colorful array of costumes donned by staffers from various departments: from superheroes to pirates and princesses, Care Bears to The Incredibles. They were all in place for the annual parade of patients, ready to shower children and their families with smiles and candy as they made their Halloween rounds through the hospital.

The event, coordinated by the Child Life department, provided a welcome boost of spirits for kids unable to do their trick or treating at home this year.

From toddlers to teens, they happily circled the lobby - some walking while attached to IV poles, some in wheelchairs, some in wagons, some lying in rolling hospital beds. And their own costumes, many provided by Child Life, were just as entertaining: spiders, ladybugs and pop stars.

"At All Children's, we provide high-quality, excellent clinical care, but Child Life works with the rest of the hospital to make sure that every experience the kids have here is above and beyond - and they know they're being cared for as a child, not just as a sick patient," said Child Life director Kristin Maier. "So this is all about creating the best experience possible. And part of childhood is celebrating Halloween. And if we're a children's hospital, we need to celebrate the moments of childhood that they might miss while they're here."

The moment was further enhanced Thursday by an appearance of two familiar characters from Sesame Street Live, in town for a weekend performance at the USF Sun Dome - Elmo and Cookie Monster. They took time out to mingle and pose for photos with patients and family members in the Children's Auditorium after trick or tricking.

"This is so great - I wished I could dress up, too," said one mother, Mekeshia Brown, whose 1-year-old daughter Ry'shai, wearing a little spider outfit, made the most of the afternoon. After collecting candy, she blew a kiss to the costumed crowd from the elevator, then spent time playing with Elmo and Cookie Monster in the auditorium.

One of the flashiest costumes was worn by 10-year-old Reyna Schemel, complete with a blond wig and huge, golden eye lashes. "I'm Nikki Minaj!" she said with a smile from her wheelchair.

"This is so awesome," added her mother, Dani. "This totally makes her day."

The same could be said for dozens of other kids on another All Children's Halloween.