When the sun goes down Halloween night, the place for goblins and ghosts of all ages to be for free food, loads of candy and plenty of fun will be New Midland Plaza.
The third annual Trunks and Treats event will be held at 6 p.m. on Oct. 31 at the amphitheater at New Midland Plaza across from Hall Salvage just off Cusick Street in Alcoa. Blount Family Ministries organizes the event.
Wil Davenport, director of Children Ministries at Fairview United Methodist Church said the idea for the event has always been to show the community churches in the area care. “We know that so many folks are out trick or treating and what an incredible opportunity to show we care for them by creating an event that they would genuinely want to go to,” he said.
Katie Logan, director of Children and Youth Ministries at Sycamore Tree United Methodist said her congregation has wanted to join in with other churches to present a united front of love of the community. “We care about the families in our community and we want what is best for them,” she said.
Dawn Herring, associate Children’s pastor at First Baptist Church of Maryville said most of the churches or non-profit organizations involved in Trunks and Treats have done previous community outreach events. “We thought, ‘What a great way to pool everyone’s resources together and do community event and it doesn’t matter if you’re Baptist or Methodist or what denomination or affiliation you are, we all come together and do something for the community,” she said.
Carol Britton, Children and Education minister at First Baptist Church of Alcoa, said, “We wanted to support the community and work together as churches to provide opportunities for families to come together in a safe place as a ministry to the community.”
Carlene Talley, director of Children’s Ministries with Monte Vista Baptist Church, said the event makes Halloween safer for families. “We have to secure the place and a lot of people help us with candy. We have candy drives at churches and businesses that always give us candy and help us with it,” she said.
Talley said the candy goes through the churches. “We bag it up and give it to the people giving it out and the people who give out the candy are people we know who have signed up to give it out. People can’t just come in and give it out, they have to go through us to be able give it out,” she said.
Herring said a lot of congregations provide candy and Wal-mart Alcoa has been good about donating candy. “Boyce Smith, the manager, has been great to work with,” she said. “It’s a community event and he wanted to be a part of that.”
Talley said there are usually between 75 and 100 vehicles set up for the Trunk or Treat. “It really gets crowded and we work every year on trying to keep the line short but the line goes down fast and people can stop and eat and play on the inflatables and just visit,” she said. “There are two entrances, one on either side of the stage.”
Logan said it is exciting when families show up. “All trunks are decorated and people are set up and we have giant inflatables, free food, live music, there’s just a really great energy in the place,” she said.
Herring said it is fun to fellowship with others. “The trunks are usually manned by folks who know one another and you feel like you would in subdivision – neighbor to neighbor. We have really beefed up security,” she said. “We have an ambulance there and police on site. We take that as seriously as possible and have plastic fencing and barriers so we know who coming in and going out.”
Talley said parents and children turn out in masse for the event. “It’s a lot of fun and a lot of people need a place to go trick or tricking,” she said. “When you give that much candy to that many people, it’s a lot of people.”
Talley said usually about 5,000 people turn out. “When we first started we planned for 2,500 and several of us spent the whole night running to get candy but it was an exciting thing. We have hotdogs and drinks for everybody and everything is free and we have the inflatables to play on and of course we have all the trunks for the kids,” she said.
Talley said there are also a lot of adults who dress up for the event and there’s music on the stage so it’s a fun, safe place to trick or treat.
Davenport said Trunks and Treats takes planning and has learned from past mistakes. What always makes the project worthwhile is working with the others on the committee, he said.
“It is very enjoyable to plan this event with the team we have,” he said. “We have a great team.”
Talley said the committee members have been working for a while. “We started planning really a couple of months ahead since we’ve done it several times,” she said. “It’s just a real big endeavor and the day before and day of is set up and bagging up candy. We provide the candy for all the churches.”
Talley said there are about seven people who help plan the event and others come in to help on the day of the event. “We’re looking forward to it,” he said.
Logan said the toughest part in the first couple of years was making sure there was enough candy. “We were blown away by the response and ended up closing up early the first year but we’ve got that down and last year we didn’t run out,” she said. “All the churches did candy drives and we’re able to have plenty of candy for all the families and all the kids.”
Davenport said parents should feel confident about safety. “The cars are never separated and it creates an excellent opportunity to get to know other members of the community,” he said. “If you are looking for a safe place to really enjoy trick or treating this year in a fun environment with good people where everything is completely free, then come join your friends and neighbors at “Trunks and Treats.”
Trunks and Treats 2010 is at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31 at New Midland Plaza in Alcoa. Visit the website www.blountfamilyministries.com or call 865-329-7725 for more information.