KERMIT — ABLE Families Afterschool participants treated family, friends and community members to an enchanted evening Friday, bringing classic fairytales to life in their adaptation of Fairytale Land as part of their annual Lights on Afterschool Program.

A team of prancing, giggling unicorns welcomed guests to the program, and the curtains opened to reveal Fairytale Land. Familiar residents of Fairytale Land included Red Riding Hood, the Old Woman and the Shoe (complete with her brood of children), Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Gingerbread Man, the Three Little Pigs and, of course, the Big Bad Wolf.

The annual event gives the children enrolled in the afterschool program a night to shine and serves as an important reminder of the vital role afterschool programs play in providing communities with a safe, nurturing environment for children in the hours between the end of the school day and the end of a typical work day.

Marlene Spaulding, executive director of ABLE Families, said she is pleased to be a part of an organization that is able serve Kermit’s families and their youth.

“ABLE Families is so thankful we can provide services to the youth in our area. As always, the kids did a great job at our annual Lights on Afterschool Program,” Spaulding said. “Afterschool programs keep kids safe and help families that need a safe place for their children to be once school is dismissed as well as inspire learning. They provide opportunities for young people to develop into successful adults.”

On any given school day, nearly 30 children attend ABLE Families afterschool program, and the weeks leading up to the annual Lights on Afterschool program are a flurry of activity.

Participants and staff work for weeks in preparation to the annual Lights on Afterschool event preparing costumes, creating stage props, rehearsing lines and filling the space with crafts and artwork designed by the program’s youth.

Although the annual program requires a great deal of advanced preparation, Dianna Parsley, one of the afterschool facilitators at ABLE Families, explained that seeing the children’s excitement each year as the program inches closer is well worth the effort.

“I am so proud of their hard work and dedication but for me the best part was seeing them so excited and watching them have so much fun,” Parsley said.

Lights on Afterschool is a project of the Afterschool Alliance. Lights on Afterschool programs are held each fall in communities across the nation to bring attention to the importance of afterschool programs.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.