There's an annual Halloween tradition at Joshua Circle Elementary School, but that wasn't all that brought the students, faculty and staff out onto the blacktop Friday morning.

"We have two reasons to be out here today," Principal Lois Reaber told the crowd, which included parents as well. The first was the school's annual Halloween parade, with staff and teachers dressed up as their favorite characters from children's books (Reaber was dressed up as Peppermint Patty from "Peanuts") and students dressed up as everything from Transformers to princesses and fairies to sports figures to various sorts of things that go bump in the night.

But there was also the new structure in the middle of the blacktop, shiny, new and unused.

"Our parent group has been raising money for years and saving it," Reaber continued. This year, the Parents And Teachers Together group spent four years of fund-raising proceeds on a new $28,000 playground for the school's 780 or so students.

The group raised money through candle and cheesecake sales, the annual Fall Family Fun Fest, smaller fund-raisers and large donations from Mitsubishi Cement, the American Legion and Valleywide Newspapers publisher Ray Pryke. Members of the Hesperia Unified School District's business office also contributed funds.

"We had two sets of the metal monkey bars and old swings that over time had pieces removed, because they didn't match [changing Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines]," school secretary Andrea Brooks, who spearheaded the project, said later. "About three years ago, we knew we had to do this. ... Multiple pieces [of the playground equipment] had to be removed and there was less and less for the kids to do."

When it came time to drop the $28,000 on a new set of playground equipment, there were two sets of criteria.

"Number one, you look at the clearance catalog," said Reaber.

And number two, they asked the kids who would be playing on the equipment what they wanted most.

"Slides were a biggie and things to climb on," said Reaber. As a result, the new playground equipment features three slides and a variety of surfaces to climb up and across.

"It took a lot of effort," Reaber told the assembled crowd at the close of the morning's ceremonies. "We have a new playground that I think we are going to enjoy for a long time."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at Follow us on Twitter at