Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! And don't forget the witches, devils and dinosaurs. They -- and many other colorfully costumed kids -- all descended on the Westport Arts Center Sunday afternoon for the third annual WACky Halloween party.

The costume party and Halloween crafts workshop attracted more than 125 children and their parents for a couple hours of happy holiday happenings.

"We're so pleased with the popularity of this event," said Alyssa Crouse, WAC's marketing director. "It has become a ritual for locals."

Melissa Bernstein, an owner of the event's business sponsor, Melissa & Doug, was on hand to help make crafts with two of her children and snapping photos. "My husband Doug and I are in the business of children and creating children's products," she said, "and Westport Arts Center has a similar mission: helping to make childhood magical. Our focus is on bringing joy to children with simple play."

There was certainly no lack of joy as the room quickly filled and kids began chattering and laughing they snipped, pasted and decorated at several work stations set up throughout the gallery.

In one area, a group constructed haunted houses out of cardboard. Among them was 7-year-old Emma Nordberg and her dad Leif. "We do a lot of activities here," said Leif, as he handed Emma short cuts of duct tape to connect pieces of cardboard. "Both my kids love the programs here. This is the third time we've done the Halloween event. It's a fun kickoff to the holiday and chance to see what other kids from the area dressed as."

Asked about his daughter's "brown dog" costume choice, Leif laughed, "We have a chocolate Lab named Winston and Emma wanted to be him."

Nearby, WAC board member and event volunteer Deirdre Price was helping a young Jared Parnes with his own haunted house. She was dressed as a witch and sporting a necklace which incorporated real spike-shaped nails that she collected from an old home teardown.

Making witches' hats with her daughters Samantha, 9, and Jolie, 5, Westporter Lynn Gefen said, "We're new to the area and thought this would be a great way to spend Halloween with neighbors."

Besides the crafts stations, a play area was set up for infants and toddlers, where they could enjoy activities like puzzlemaking. From that area, coloring pads and markers were also being distributed and used by kids at another set of tables.

You could say it was a boo-tiful way to scare up some pre-Halloween spirits.