Inaugural 'Trunk or Treat' event attracts hundreds
They came early and they stayed late — but not too late — a few at a time at first and then by the dozen, children wearing costumes, accompanied by their parents, happy to collect some early Halloween treats, both healthy and sweet.
Judging by the size of the crowd that showed up on campus Friday night at dusk, HCC's inaugural "Trunk or Treat" event was a great success.
"By our count, we had 200 to 250 children," said Education professor Sheila Gould, adviser to the HCC Education Club, which organized the event. "We counted by how many boxes of Goldfish crackers we gave out."
Many wearing costumes themselves, HCC faculty, staff and students decorated the back ends of 18 cars and trucks for the early Halloween event. Rather than going door to door to collect candy and other treats, children were able to go "trunk to trunk" n Parking Lot R by the Bartley Center, experiencing a wide variety of spooky and less ghoulish displays.
Participating HCC departments and programs included the Students on the Autism Spectrum Club, New Directions, WCCH Radio Club, Multicultural Academic Services, STRIVE, the Student Senate, HCC Education faculty, HCC Education Club, Westfield State University Education Club, HCC Admissions, HCC Business & Techology Division, HCC Latino International Students Association (LISA Club), the HCC Military Club, HCC Spanish professor Raul Gutierrez and his family, HCC Forensic Science professor Elizabeth Butin and her family, and HCC students Isabel Lamkins and Tommy Dunn.
While many faculty and staff members brought their children, most seemed to be from neighborhoods around the campus. Parents said they appreciated being able to take their children out "trick or treating" on a weekend night while it was still light out.
"As a parent, my children had a wonderful, safe time," said Gould. "They talked about it all weekend."
Gould said the feedback the first Trunk or Treat has been so overwhelmingly positive it is likely to become an annual HCC event.
"Other people on campus have already expressed interest in participating next year," she said. "Some groups already shared their ideas for next year's themes. I've also had some online feedback from community friends who said things like, 'This will be a new tradition for our family.'"
Prizes were awarded in a variety of categories for best trunk displays:
Best Executed Theme: Winter Wonderland (Students on the Autism Spectrum Club)
Enthusiastic, Energetic and Excited Award: Isabel Lamkins (HCC Education student)
Best Costumes: HCC Student Senate
Scariest Trunk: Zombies (Psychology Club)
Funniest Trunk: ATM (Business & Technology Division)
Most Original: Garden display (Admissions Office)
HCC education students began talking last fall about sponsoring some kind of Halloween-related event.
"Students were brainstorming ideas to involve the whole HCC community in a way that would benefit children and families in the area," said Gould.
Last year, the HCC Education Club became the first community college club in Massachusetts to be recognized by the Massachusetts Teachers Association as a chapter of SEAM (Student Educators Association of Massachusetts), whose members host community events and participate in statewide education conferences.
PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Above) HCC Education faculty members Sheila Gould, left, Tricia Kiefer, Tracey Burton and Joan Giovannini dressed as the Penguins of Madagascar for HCC's inaugural Trunk or Treat event Friday. (Thumbnail) HCC student senator Dylan Burns hands out Halloween treats.