CRESCO, Pa. - After school let out Friday, families in Barrett Township dashed for their garages, pulling out plastic severed heads, bloody-looking chains, and fake tombstones.
Brandon Eden, 8, pulled on a flowing black cape for his vampire costume. His mother, Ashley, ran out to buy bags of KitKat bars, Reese's candy, and Jolly Ranchers. His father, James, hauled out an inflatable skeleton riding a horse for the front yard.
For those in this small Poconos community, who lived a real-life horror story for nearly seven weeks, the last-minute celebration of Halloween was a welcome break. After dozens of disruptive days and nights of SWAT teams, roadblocks, hovering helicopters, and high anxiety, normalcy after the arrest of Eric Frein never looked so good.
"We are so relieved," Ashley Eden said as she set up her front yard with Halloween decorations. She had learned less than 24 hours earlier that trick-or-treating could go on. "We're just ecstatic."
Many lives here and in surrounding areas were disrupted by the manhunt for the accused killer of a state trooper, as hundreds of armed police swarmed yards and searched homes. But Price Drive, where the Edens live, sits near the landing pad for the helicopters that almost constantly swept low across the countryside.
All that noise kept the family up at night, as did the constant lack of knowledge as to where Frein was hiding. But on Thursday night, that suspense was lifted when Frein was captured.
So, on Friday afternoon, Brandon Eden had his first outdoor recess at school in a long, long time.
Although Frein was in custody, Ralph Megliola, Barrett Township supervisor, said that a complete return to normalcy might take a while. Law enforcement officials likely will remain in the area and keep their staging areas open in Barrett for about a week as they continue their investigation.
And while trick-or-treating went on as usual, the 50th annual Halloween parade - Barrett Township's biggest annual event - was a casualty to the state of siege.
Lt. Col. George Bivens, who led the Pennsylvania State Police investigation, stopped by a house on Price Drive on Friday evening to thank Joe and Kristine Bender, a couple who supported the police through the Barrett Township Fire Company.
"The community has been good to us," Bivens said. "And I wanted to come thank them for all their support."
After Bivens left, Kristine Bender said: "We would even let our children outside after dark. That would never happen during the manhunt."
Bivens, who for weeks was the public face of the manhunt as he held news conferences and appeared with updates on TV, also stood next to a fire truck and passed out candy Friday night. After weeks of begging residents for patience, he posed for photos with children in costumes and received words of thanks from parents.
The sense of relief among law enforcement officers was palpable. On Thursday night, a group of officers guarding a roadblock to the area where Frein had been captured stood in a circle laughing and joking with one another. It was a dramatic contrast to the many nights they had spent scouring the woods with rifles and bulletproof vests.
"He's caught," one local officer said. "So, hey, you breathe easier."